The holiday season is a great time to reflect on the spirit of hospitality and the role that those of us in the industry play in creating memories, a sense of community, and bringing heartfelt joy to others. It is this spirit of hospitality that brings us joy in serving others. This time of year – when there are fourteen religious holidays , the warmth, community and feeling of family is stronger than any other time of the year for many. But, for some, the holidays can be a sad time or pose a great deal of stress. Working on holidays is a standard for almost all hospitality jobs. When other people are off work and/or celebrating, that is when we are working—many times even working to ensure their holidays are extra merry. It can take a toll psychologically thinking about missed time with family and serving others as they indulge, and you work. Instead of focusing on what’s negative about working on the holidays; in the spirit of hospitality and support and encouragement for everyone in the industry, here are few ways to get into the holiday spirit in case you aren’t feeling your jolliest:
You can’t do it all and that’s okay
Be gentle with yourself about how much you can reasonably accomplish in a day or week. Stop with any self-judgment or comparisons to others.
Your presence is present enough
Celebrate your loved ones with your time, kind words and your presence when you aren’t working.
YOUR holiday doesn’t have to be on a specific day
Many hospitality professionals celebrate Christmas on a different day with their family and have their own holiday traditions. If there are children in the mix, perhaps calling in a favor from the Man in the Red Suit to help you celebrate on an alternate day is an option?
Make yourself feel good by doing good
Reach out to those who are alone and if you are alone, consider spending time volunteering or reaching out to family and friends.
What you have many people only wish they did, and it’s true that everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about. When I was alone at the holidays throughout my career, I would create a top 10 list of items for which I was grateful. Shifting my mindset to gratefulness always helped my mood and made me better at my hospitality job.
Choose to savor the moment
Take a step back to see how you are touching the lives of the people you are serving and helping them to create holiday memories and/or traditions. If you choose to embrace them, these can also be great holiday memories for you as well. People don’t remember what they did on June 2 or September 10, but they do remember the holidays and how they were spent and your influence on that memory is everlasting. Making people happy and leaving a lasting impact on their life is extremely gratifying.
You have survived 100% of your worst days
It’s okay to sometimes “fake it til’ you make it” at work. But don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t feeling jolly. Everyone is entitled to their feelings. Conflict arises when we try to push our feelings away. However, realize that it is a feeling, not a reflection of who you are. Instead of saying, “I’m sad, angry, irritated, etc.”, say “I feel sad.” “I feel angry.” etc. and know that feelings eventually pass and/or change.
This time of year, many in the club industry receive words, gifts and cards of gratitude from customers and members. It’s important you acknowledge these gifts and say thank you. Consider writing thank you cards in advance, so you only need to add a greeting and a few personal words so that you aren’t overwhelmed with the task of sending them out. This can help you look forward to seeing others and remain in a state of gratitude.
Give yourself the gift of good health
It’s hard to manage emotions if you aren’t practicing good self-care. Eat right, get enough sleep, manage your energy and plan ahead for snacks, water, hand-sanitizer, etc. Many times, our emotions play tricks on us simply because we are exhausted.
A few special tips for managers this time of year to make sure your team’s morale stays high:
Conduct training in advance as much as you can
Acknowledge there may be holiday madness and anticipate what your team may be faced with, so they are prepared. Review best practices and what to do in case of an emergency. Allow everyone to ask questions or role play until they are comfortable with what is expected of them.
Hopefully you have already planned schedules well in advance of the holidays, so your employees could make their personal plans accordingly. If you didn’t, recognize there may be additional stress and sadness as they miss time with family. Help them to see the joy in serving others.
Recognize and appreciate them
Employees feeling over-worked and under-appreciated is a recipe for low morale and potential team chaos. Make sure you are recognizing their efforts and appreciate that they are taking time from their family for their job just as you are. A simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way, but if you can do more, such as a gift, holiday party or bonus, that’s even better!
Goal setting helps a team to move forward together. These should be customer/member-centric (we will achieve 95% satisfaction on comment cards) or employee-centric (make sure there are always two people on the floor at a time).
Expect the unexpected
Be prepared and have a plan for people calling off a shift, additional walk-ins, maintenance issues, emergencies, missing product, etc.
The holiday season doesn’t always come together like a Hallmark movie. Throughout the year, we may experience loss or setbacks, making the holidays difficult for some. For hospitality employees, holidays are the culmination of one of the busiest times of the year. Beyond the usual juggling and life events, add to the list financial worries, scheduling concerns, gift shopping, holiday parties and maybe their own entertaining. Before long, the anxiety and stress can overwhelm the seasonal joy and fellowship we hope to feel. Without recognition and a solid plan to overcome those feelings, we will have a difficult time serving others.
So, as you are out serving others, just remember: You are appreciated. You are important. You are a meaningful member of your team. Without you doing what you do, many people would not have the special holiday memories that they do. For those of you in the hospitality industry, we at RCS salute you and appreciate you!
Whitney Reid Pennell, president of the RCS Hospitality Group (formerly Reid Consulting Services) is a celebrated management consultant, educator and speaker. RCS, the creators of the Food and Beverage Boot Camp™, specialize in operations consulting, strategic planning, food and beverage management, and training programs.
For more information, phone (623) 322-0773; or visit the RCS website at www.consultingrcs.com.