Thanksgiving. It means something different to each and everyone of us in the USA. Beginning in the early 1600s New England, this tradition of giving thanks and gathering family and friends with a feast after a season of farming has become America’s holiday regardless of your personal religion. We treat it as a secular holiday every year on the fourth Thursday of the month and everyone is welcome to participate!
For some it means the beginning of holiday shopping season…of course Black Friday follows, and this has become blurred with most retailers opening on Thanksgiving, too.
I’m a former retail executive and Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Our family has a tradition going back over 25 years of gathering at my sister-in-law's house for turkey, football, and family. In years gone by, it was my last day off before a marathon of work that lasted until the second week of January when we did our annual store inventory at Macy’s where I started my career, and Limited Brands where my retail stints ended almost 14 years later. It has now been 19 years since I had to face the challenge of waking up at 5:00 a.m. the day after the holiday to start my marathon of work. In a strange way, I do miss the rush sometimes.
For many HR executives, this holiday brings with it challenges, too, as businesses, specifically retail in nature, are now open for a part of the day -- or all day. A decade ago this was one of only a couple of days on the calendar that businesses outside of essential services were shut down. Other industries including restaurants, entertainment, and hotels are challenged similarly with an end of year busy season that start on Thanksgiving and end on News Year day.
If you work in HR in one of these industries, you will more then likely work similar long hours and additional days as well. I feel for all of you and suggest a couple of tips to get through the end of the year.
Eat healthy and find at least one hour a couple times a week to recreate and laugh a few times a day. It usually goes so fast, you don’t realize the hours you’re working. The same suggestion goes to your entire employee population, too.
Here are a few ideas for HR folks in holiday industries to help ease the burden of working extended hours for their employees:
- Set up some concierge services for your employees that can’t get to the dry cleaners or grocery store.
- Have local auto repair shops do pickup and drop off for basics like oil changes, tire rotations and car inspections.
- Provide contacts for pet sitting or dog walking services to handle those extra- long days out of the house.
- Flex scheduling to allow a couple hours off, if employees need it, to get out to a winter school concert or athletic event on a particular day or night for their children.
For those lucky enough to work in industries not directly impacted by the holiday season, please be nice to folks who are. Go out of your way to do something to help. From offering to carpool the kids to an after-school activity, to hosting a dinner so that someone working a gazillion hours does not have to cook one night.
Remember the intention of the holiday…and share it with others…during the entire holiday season.
Wishing you all the happiest and most joyous of days.