Holiday Ruckus: Five Things to Watch out for in the Workplace During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is full of endless cheer and celebration. So many individuals wait in eager anticipation and excitement for Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve to roll around. With all the seasonal joy, delicious food, and countless parties, the holiday season may seem like it’s all fun and games, but for many small-business owners this season can cause quite a few complications in the workplace.

Small-business owners don’t intend to come off like Mr. Scrooge during the holiday season; if anything, they are trying their best to remain upbeat and positive throughout the fall and winter months. After watching my parents run their small landscaping business through the years, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to run a company around Thanksgiving and Christmas. In case you haven’t realized, the holidays are peeking their heads around the corner; for those of you who are running a small business, there are five things in particular you need to start preparing for now.

holiday ruckus

Employee Vacations

Inevitably, many of your employees are going to want to take a few vacation days during the holidays. Therefore, it’s wise to tell everybody to submit their time-off requests as soon as possible. The main thing you want to avoid is having everyone from a specific department like accounting and human resources all gone at the same time. The best way to avoid something like this is to have members from each team or department meet with each other and designate which days they intend to take off. By doing this, you’ll avoid having too many people gone from the workplace at the same time.


Holiday bonuses are a tricky thing to handle. People often expect them during the holidays, and unfortunately, not all small businesses are able to hand them out. If you are not going to be handing out holiday bonuses, go ahead and make it known well in advance. Although some employees may be let down, the last thing you want to do is have them getting angry or upset right before the holidays. If you do intend to hand out bonuses, then it’s wise for you to contemplate when you’re going to hand them out. If you want to incorporate an element of surprise, you can wait until just before Christmas to hand them out, but if you want people to use them for holiday shopping, perhaps you could hand them out just before Thanksgiving.

Different Religious Views

Many of us make the assumption that anyone and everyone celebrates Thanksgiving and Christmas. In case you’ve forgotten, we live in a diverse country where not everybody celebrates these traditional holidays. In order to avoid any sort of unintended conflict in the office, it’s a good idea to ask everyone to submit anonymous comments on how they would like to handle celebrating holidays in the office. To handle something this, you could hand out an anonymous questionnaire asking people things like if they would like to have holiday parties; which holidays they would like celebrate; if there are certain foods they can’t eat; if there are certain holiday rituals they are uncomfortable with; etc. By making the holiday season comfortable for everyone, you’ll avoid most unintentional animosity and tension in the office.

Holiday Food

The holidays are packed full of delicious, fattening foods. Although our taste buds can’t get enough of them, our waistlines can. It is fun to bring in caloric sweets to the office every once in a while, but going overboard isn’t good for anyone. Make sure to talk to your office staff and emphasize that although it is a kind gesture to bring in sweet and salty treats, it’s important to know where to draw the line. You don’t want people feeling as if they have to indulge in unhealthy food simply because somebody brought it into the office “for everybody.” The last thing you want is rundown or exhausted simply because they are divulging too much in seasonal sweets.

Low Productivity

Along with all the holiday cheer comes one tough malady: low productivity. Many employees are so filled with excitement and anticipation during the weeks leading up to Christmas that their productivity goes down tremendously. Though it might be difficult to motivate people during the last few days before Christmas vacation, make sure to host a few employee meetings and have everyone go over what their working on during the low-productivity days. If you see a problem with certain departments or employees, pull them aside and kindly remind them that even though it’s the holiday season, they are still at work and they must live up to what is expected of them. As long as you remind everyone that they are not yet on Christmas break, you should be able to get everyone back on track quickly.

The holidays are supposed to be a fun, cheerful time of year, yet small-business owners must consider a number of conflicts that are likely to come up during the holidays. If you haven’t done so already, start thinking about how you’ll handle low productivity, employee vacations, holiday foods, different religious views, and bonuses during the upcoming holiday season.

About the Author: Alvina Lopez has freelanced about education throughout her career. As technology and education converge, Alvina hopes to guide her readers as they search for online college programs that have the potential to jumpstart their careers and change their lives. She welcomes feedback at