4 ways to avoid a 'bah, humbug' holiday season

Nov 13, 2012
4 ways to avoid a 'bah, humbug' holiday season
New Line Cinema/Warner Bros.

The holidays can be challenging for small business owners. Should you spend money on a company party or employee bonuses? How does a small retailer handle the busy shopping season but still give employees time off to be with their families? What does your team really want in their stockings?

Here are some tips for dealing with common holiday headaches:

Empower and appreciate holiday workers, says the FOX Small Business Center. Include employees in schedule-making for the months of November-January. Offer flexible options, such as trading work days or sharing shifts. A simple "thank-you," whether it's a gift card or a buffet in the break room, can lift the spirits of employees working on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day.

Know the laws when hiring seasonal help. What's the difference between a temporary employee and an independent contractor? How does your state handle unemployment benefits for seasonal workers? The SBA has some good advice on its community blog.

Think practical when buying holiday gifts for your staff. You can't go wrong with gift cards, clothing, food or cash bonuses, according to a 2012 Holiday Business Gift Survey from Lands' End Business Outfitters. How much should you spend? Most employers will keep it under $50 per employee, the survey found.

Respect the cultural backgrounds of employees. Avoid religious-themed decorations if they aren't appropriate. Use common sense based on the size and makeup of your team. And recognize that the "politically correct" rule might not apply to personal workspaces. If you let employees personalize their spaces all year, you can't tell one to remove a Nativity scene from her desk at Christmastime, says Monster.com.