In lieu of it being Thanksgiving week I decided it was important to touch on the importance of family, especially when it comes to the workplace. The majority of people in the U.S spend over 40 hours per week at work, this is at the expense of their family, friends, and other loved ones. Even if you love what you do it can be difficult to spend this much time away from the people that mean the most to you. Something that is consistently taken for granted in America is the amount of time and effort that people put into their jobs; not only do you show up everyday, but you give it your all. As an employee you want your employer to respect and understand how important it is to have time away from the job to spend with family and friends, especially around the holidays.
As an entrepreneur/small business owner you may or may not have employees. Just for fun, pretend you have at least a few employees even if you don’t. It’s incredibly important for a business owner to be aware and respectful of the fact that your employees do have a life outside of the regular 9-5 (or whatever crazy hours you might work). It seems almost everyone has had that job where your employer only cares about what you can do for them and how much work you can get done for them. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the year and give thanks for everything that you have like friends, family, and yes, even our jobs. It is also a time when employers need to thank their employees and show their gratitude for everything that they do, because let’s face it, without employees most businesses wouldn’t survive.
Maybe you own Best Buy and as much as you want to you just can’t give your employees Black Friday off. That’s okay! There are tons of other ways to show appreciation to your employees. I worked at American Girl for a couple of holiday seasons (for those of you who don’t know, American Girl is an expensive doll store for girls) and never once had Black Friday off. But, I still felt that my work was appreciated and that they were sincerely grateful for the hard work that I put in day in and day out. Every employee, whether simply seasonal or full time, got an amazing gift basket filled with doll goodies. We aren’t talking one or two items, we are talking a huge box filled with furniture, games, clothes, books, and more. Not only did they give this to every single employee, but all day Black Friday they would have a Thanksgiving meal for everyone who was working that day so you didn’t have to worry about bringing or buying food.
Even though most people did not want to be working on Black Friday, the majority of us felt really lucky because of the appreciation from staff and management, all the way from the CEO down. They also were really good about scheduling people for only 6 hour shifts so you weren’t spending your entire day being drained by crazy customers the day after inundating yourself with turkey. So, why am I rambling about a doll store and my last experience working retail? The reason this is important is because a.) I wanted to work harder for this company that appreciated me and b.) I was more likely to show up, do my best, and not run off all the customers.
Amidst all the warm feelings of Thanksgiving and the holidays many people still get caught up in the consumerism of corporate America and fail to remember that everyone needs time off to have fun, relax, and live life. As an employer instead of thinking, “That’s a whole week of profits and sales lost due to closing the store/office!”, you should be thinking, “By giving my employees this week off, I am strengthening our relationship and giving them a reason to come back to work and do the very best they can.” Research has even shown that employees who have more freedom and flexibility are more productive and loyal, why do you think Richard Branson just gave all his U.S Virgin employees unlimited vacation?
I guess my point here is, it can be easy to forget that your business isn’t the center of your employees world and you shouldn’t expect it to be either. Remember that your employees are human and by treating them as such can get you a long way in maintaining happy, productive employees.