‘Tis the season to be jolly. After all, December is a month of multicultural celebrations, from Christmas and Hanukkah to Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve. Many of us look forward to spending time with family and friends, planning celebratory meals, hosting get-togethers, decorating our homes, and shopping for the perfect gifts. And while these occasions can bring much joy, they also can leave a number of us feeling more than a little overwhelmed.
As a hospital administrator or medical practice manager, you have to ensure operations at your healthcare organization run smoothly throughout this eventful month. Apart from your usual obligations, you are apt to face an increase in staff requests for time off, the demands of cold and flu season (i.e., the busiest time of the year for many facilities), and/or longer wait times for inpatient beds, resulting in a crowded emergency department. Toss into the mix the time you want to allot for personal holiday preparations and gatherings, and you could have a recipe for burnout.
Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to better meet work- and holiday-related objectives, and keep your spirits bright.
- Delegate. You can do a lot of things—possibly faster and better than most—but you can’t do everything, nor should you. Empower your direct reports and others you manage by sharing some of your less urgent duties. It will free you up to focus on seasonal issues and the most pressing matters at your healthcare organization. What’s more, it will further engage members of your team.
Similarly, ask family members or friends for a hand with your holiday-related tasks, from picking up ingredients for your signature plum pudding to putting up decorations. Also, consider hiring a personal shopper to purchase your gifts at brick-and-mortar shops or online, and arranging for a caterer to prepare your holiday meal.
- Don’t overextend yourself. Establish boundaries and stick to them, and don’t worry about letting anyone down. Prior to responding to an invitation for a festive party or taking on a holiday-related project, ask yourself one question: Will this event or activity bring me joy or stress? It really is perfectly acceptable to decline an invite or request when you feel adding one more thing to your already full schedule would be too taxing. Good friends and family members will understand.
- Establish a policy regarding holiday hours, if one is not already in place. In particular, this tip is geared to practice managers. Institute a plan, communicate it to staff, and ensure it is available for employees’ review at all times. A holiday hours policy can eliminate assumptions and frustration by addressing how requests for time off on or around the holidays will be handled, how many staff members can be out of the office simultaneously, holiday pay, and other relevant info.