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How to Plan Thoughtful Holiday Celebrations for Healthcare Workers

Celebrating the Holidays for Healthcare Workers
Stefano Valle/123RF.com

The holidays are approaching and healthcare facilities across the nation are looking to celebrate the season and their staff. With 24/7 operations it can be difficult to create opportunities to assure everyone has a chance to join in the fun and good cheer. When staff works around the clock, celebrations have to work overtime, but creating events that can hold up through the shifts can be challenging.

Celebrations will need to be round the clock and accessible to all. The larger the facility, and the more buildings and locations, the harder it may be to create a single event. There are some festivities you can arrange for all staff, even as others are run by department teams. Mini celebrations are a great morale boost for teams, but institutional efforts show staff they’re appreciated from the top down.

Something for Everyone

Institutions can ring in the holiday season in every department with hot cocoa/warm cider stations. If workgroups use single-serve coffee makers, stock them up with the flavors of the season. A gift package of peppermints, fudge and marshmallows for each group makes for a festive feel in the break room. Adding a few decorations along with the gift bag adds a seasonal touch.

A Bit of Entertainment

Strolling carolers can make sure to hit every department and shift as they roam the facility bringing cheer to workers and patients alike. Actors can present holiday scenes as they wander in costumes. Contact local choir and theater groups to arrange a moving celebration for your teams.

Holiday Lights

If you have the space on campus, start holiday lighting traditions. Festive Menorah candle lighting celebrations can begin the season, followed by Kwanzaa candles and a Christmas tree. Consider serving coffee, cocoa, hot toddies and treats. Music of the season can play as employees mix and mingle to ring in the holiday season.

Contests

The ugly sweater contest is a holiday favorite, but don’t worry that your distributed teams can’t get in on the fun. Set up an online contest early in the season. Employees upload a picture of themselves in their ugliest attire and their colleagues vote. Prizes could be awarded with an ugly ensemble group picture to share with staff.

Create a variety of categories for prizes: ugliest Hanukah, Kwanzaa and Christmas sweaters are just the beginning. Add subcategories like ugliest animal-, snowman- or gingerbread-themes.  Create a prize for sweaters with the silliest or sweetest sayings or prizes for the most ‘homemade-looking’ sweater.  Another category could be ugly holiday hats, while another could be costumes of employee’s favorite holiday tv or movie character. If you have in-house tv monitors, consider slide shows of the contestants and winners (great for Halloween costumes, too) for employees and patients to enjoy.

Holiday Feasts

If you have the capability to provide holiday meals over the season, consider having leadership do the serving. Workers rarely get to rub elbows with Administrators, and holiday meals served by leadership are a great way to show the institution supports its staff from the top-down. Whether serving staff in the facility’s cafeteria or serving the community off-site events, when top management gets involved in the fun and the service, the message is clear: we’re a team.

Spread the Cheer

If trying to cram an everything holiday into a few days near the end of the month is impractical, consider Holiday Week (or two). Hanukah begins December 22 in 2019, with Christmas and Kwanzaa on the 25th and 26th.  Smaller celebrations, staggered throughout the weeks, can assure everyone is in on the fun.

Giving Back

Few workers give back as much as those in healthcare. Every minute of every shift is dedicated to helping others. For some, the holidays have even more meaning when staff can give back beyond their professional reach. Facilities can partner with toy collection organizations, letters to Santa drives, or coordinate efforts with community partners to help those in need. Employees can volunteer to participate or coordinate, often finding these efforts bring more warmth to the holiday season than anything wrapped and tied with a bow.

Giving Trees

Are there staff members in your institution that could use a bit of help over the holiday season? A giving tree, where employees can anonymously submit needs can help spread the cheer. Staff members anonymously fulfill wishes for those who provide requests. If your institution organizes an in-house giving tree, set some basic guidelines: due dates to submit and fulfill requests, and perhaps spending limits. A volunteer or HR will need to privately coordinate how gifts are distributed to those who asked for donations.

If your facility normally gives out a cash or gift card bonus to employees every year, consider asking employees if they’d like their gift donated to others in need. If there are community groups your institution partners with, or if staffers have a charity in mind, the option to divert some of the holiday cheer to those in need could be a heartwarming option. If your donations go to a single charity, or several, make sure to notify staff how much was donated in their names as individuals and as an institution.

 

No matter how large or small your institution, celebrating the season is a great way to show appreciation to your staff. Not only will it brighten their day, spreading holiday cheer is a great boost to morale. Make the season as festive as you can.

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About Riia O'Donnell

Riia O’Donnell has over 20 year’s hands-on experience in all aspects of the Human Resource function. Beginning as a recruiter, she grew to lead in all areas of HR, including employee training and development, legal compliance, benefits administration, compensation evaluation, and staff management. She has been a contributing writer for a wealth of HR, training, and small business websites for the past 7 years. Connect with Riia on Twitter at @RiiaOD.