Getting Your Agency Through the Holiday Season

By Carolyn Smith

In the insurance industry, “the most wonderful time of the year” is often the “busiest time of the year.”  While you deserve a taste of holiday cheer, the reality is that you are challenged with renewals, client appreciation events, shifting work schedules, and pressure to achieve end-of-year business goals. Quite simply, you have more to do during the holidays than at any other time of the year. 

How do you keep your team’s focus, engagement, and productivity from diminishing as the year draws to a close? 

According to Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research on holiday stress, you should be aware of these added stresses among your associates:

  • Women disproportionately feel the most holiday stress, usually because they are in charge of holiday celebrations, preparing meals, and decorating their homes. 
  • Middle-income ($30-50,000) workers tend to want more time off from work during the holidays to get everything done on a budget.
  • Emotions – both positive and negative – run high during the holidays and can intensify workplace stress.
  • Due to work, family, and holiday demands, your associates feel that there are not enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished.  They are less willing to work overtime yet continue to stress about their workload.  In fact, 56% of those surveyed reported that managing their workload and being able to take time off was a significant source of stress.

How can you assist your team to reduce the amount of holiday stress?

  1. Whenever possible, offer flexible work arrangements during the holidays, such as flexible hours or allowing for longer lunch breaks to shop and run errands.  When your team members have more flexibility, they will achieve increased productivity and lower levels of stress.
  2. Set expectations early.  Be realistic about the expectations you have for end-of-year projects.  Are there any deadlines you can shift to January?  Have you developed a fair and balanced calendar for staff? 
  3. Coach your team on good time management skills.  Help them prioritize their most important goals.  Encourage everyone to focus on top priorities so that when they leave the office, they can focus on their personal lives.
  4. Cross-train co-workers on each other’s tasks to facilitate cooperation and mutual assistance.  Make sure associates are cross-trained so they can react quickly should an issue or crisis occur while a co-worker is out of the office.  Help those who are cross-trained feel comfortable in their dual roles by helping fill any knowledge or skill gaps.   Encourage your team to help others when their own duties are completed.
  5. Raise morale.  With holiday stress and emotions running hot, your team members may feel especially demoralized and burned out.  Take time to thank each and every associate for their hard work and accomplishments.  Give them specific examples of how they made a difference.
  6. Remain culturally aware. During the busy holiday season, encourage your team members to respect the traditions, backgrounds, and cultures of their co-workers. Remember that everyone has a different set of personal priorities and ways to celebrate the season. At the end of the day, each member of your team is valuable and shares your goal of making the business successful.

Rather than getting frustrated by the holidays, try to stay more organized and communicative this year.  By implementing these tips and tricks, you can make it through this time of year with minimized stress.

Learn more about the author, Carolyn Smith.

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