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The end of any given year is always a challenge. Even if your fiscal year runs contrary to the Gregorian calendar, managing time, people, expenses and other resources in December can leave you waiting with bated breath, and perhaps a serious lack of patience, for the New Year holiday.
So, how did the end of the calendar year become such a challenge to manage? After all, you still have staff to do the work, and many of them come to work this time of year in a festive mood. This should translate to more work and less stress, right?
That’s not necessarily true since many employees save a significant amount of time off for the end of the year, and in our undeniably now global society, not everyone celebrates the same holidays, requiring the use of different vacation or PTO days than the traditional Christmas to New Year’s week. Couple that with the increased demand of customers and clients who also want things done before their holidays begin, and you generally end up scrambling even more than usual to make staffing assignments and provide resources to meet that demand.
Don’t get me wrong – this is not a bad thing in any way, shape or form. I, for one, enjoy celebrating the various holiday traditions and exploring those for which I have very little knowledge or experience. I guess it’s the one-time-sociology-major coming out, allowing me to revel in the opportunity to explore different ways of looking at life and business.
Over the years, I have picked up a few tidbits here and there about meeting end of the year management challenges, and have listed three of them.
Make Company Holidays Flexible. As I mentioned earlier, different cultures celebrate different holidays. If your company’s annual holidays include 2 or more days for Christmas, make them floating holidays that can be taken by employees of different faiths when their holidays fall. This provides your company with staff coverage for clients during traditionally slow periods. Global companies staff their offices 24/365 because they recognize the importance of being there for the customer when they are looking for something. Having flexible authorized holidays makes this possible.
Choose and Support a Nonprofit All Year Long. Resource allocation, including staff, is one of the greatest challenges in December. If your company supports a nonprofit by allowing staff to volunteer during work hours, implement a program to encourage staff to do so every month of the year, rather than just December. Having worked in the nonprofit community for almost 30 years, I can tell you that they need your support on a consistent basis; not just on Thanksgiving and Christmas. In fact, the need for those supporting the homeless and less fortunate is often greater in the first quarter of the year once winter really sets in.
Be Flexible in Managing the Generations of Your Workforce. Although I've written about this before, I think it still bears repeating. There are at least four different generations in the current workforce, all with differing needs and means of communication. Yes, you can teach an old dog a new trick, but that doesn't mean he likes it, or embraces it willingly. Likewise, puppies have boundless energy and their own ways of doing things that an older dog can’t fathom. However, that doesn't mean that one way of doing something is better than the other; they are just different. Don’t forget to keep that in mind when confronted with a management decision.
All in all, the end of the calendar year can be an exciting and busy time with its own unique management challenges. Although I've only listed three, I’m sure there are many, many more ideas, so please feel free to share yours.
Editor's Note: This blog post also appears on LinkedIn.
Before founding her own consulting firm in 2013, Dawn Gannon served as a respected project management and administrative operations professional in the military, higher education, and women’s healthcare fields for 25 years. She holds a Masters of Business Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Organizational Management from American Public University, is a contributor on LinkedIn, and the author of the Management in Motion blog.
Dawn currently serves as the Past Chair of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Women’s Council, and teaches health and safety classes for the American Red Cross. As an infertility survivor she has been a featured speaker within the Fertility Community, and written numerous articles on the topic of childfree living.