Next year is shaping up to be just as uncertain and stressful as the post-COVID years. Use December as an opportunity to encourage your team to take some much needed downtime this holiday season. As a leader, it's important to not only allow your team to take time off for the holidays, but to also encourage them to do so.

Taking time off for the holidays can benefit both your team members and your organization. It allows employees to recharge and come back to work feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the new year. It can also help improve morale and increase productivity.

Here are some ways leaders can encourage their teams to take time off for the holidays. To set context, studies have shown that the optimal number of days to take off at a time is eight! When is the last time you took more than four days off?

  1. Set the example by taking time off yourself. If you're not taking time off for the holidays, it sends the message that it's not important or that it's not okay for others to do so. Leading by example shows your team that it's okay to take time off and that you value their well-being. Historically, this is where I've struggled the most - I've improved in recent years but still tend to push when I should be leaning back.
  2. Communicate the importance of taking time off. Make it clear to your team that taking time off for the holidays is not only allowed, but encouraged. Let them know that you value their work-life balance and that taking time off will help them come back to work feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the new year. You will get the most bang for your buck here, use this opportunity to let the team know you care about them and are thinking of their wellbeing.
  3. Plan ahead and manage workloads. Before the holidays, review your team's workload and make sure that everything is on track. This will help ensure that your team can take time off without worrying about falling behind. If possible, try to assign any urgent tasks before the holidays so that your team can truly relax and recharge.
  4. Be flexible with time off requests. Not everyone may celebrate the same holidays or have the same vacation plans. Be flexible and accommodate your team's time off requests as much as possible. This will show that you value their personal time and that you're willing to work with them to ensure they have a successful and stress-free holiday season.

Chances are, your team is going to have a bias towards coasting into the new year. By encouraging your team to take time off for the holidays, you can help them recharge and come back to work feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the new year. Not only will this benefit your team members, but it's also an efficient move as a leader since your team likely isn't burning at 100% effectiveness this month anyway.

You are much better off being flexible in December, and getting the team rallied starting in January to kick the year off on the right foot. Hopefully, there will be some much needed gas in the collective tank (or recharged batteries) that will build some early momentum you can ride into the first quarter of 2023.

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