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Holiday ideas your team will actually enjoy

Nov. 27, 2023
Celebrating the holidays as a staff isn't just a "supposed to," says Amanda Hill—it's a time to let your team know how much their contributions mean. Here she outlines ideas for doing just that.

As the busyness of the winter holidays sets in, the dental social media pages are firing up with questions about what offices are and should be doing to mark the season. While there certainly isn’t one correct approach, the holiday season is the perfect time to take a moment to recognize and appreciate the efforts of everyone who got you to the end of the year.

The importance of feeling appreciated

In today’s understaffed and overscheduled environment, we can get caught up in staying on time and forget all the work that goes into doing what we do. Feeling appreciated goes beyond paychecks and bonuses. In RDH magazine’s 2023 Salary Survey Report, 40% of respondents' top motivators for changing jobs were for a more positive work environment or a more appreciative employer. As the year ends, taking time to express heartfelt gratitude not only boosts morale but also sets the tone for a positive start to the new year.

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Variations of gift-giving

When we think of the holiday season, many of us start making lists and checking them twice. Gift-giving in the office can be a fun tradition—or a stressful one. If the entire office decides to exchange gifts, consider setting low price limits. Many offices will draw names or do a gift swap game to ease the burden. And teams often chip in for a gift for the boss.

Leaders can participate in the team gift-giving or sit it out and give gifts to each team member on their own, or not at all. I’ve experienced offices where the dentist will give everyone the same gift and offices where the dentist was a creative gift giver and gave each person a thoughtful, individualized gift.

Hosting a holiday party

A holiday party is a great way to step away from patient care and into celebration mode. Parties can be everything from a simple potluck during an extended office lunch to an evening out with significant others. When we take time to get to know each other outside of work mode, it can strengthen relationships and go a long way to improving office culture. After all, we are more than just our jobs.

If December is too swamped with fitting in patients, vacations, and outside work obligations, consider having your party in January when things are slower.

Monetary bonuses

Holiday bonuses are a hot-button topic for sure. What is the right amount for a holiday bonus? So much depends on the practice's health, compensation structure, and tradition. I’ve worked in offices that gave everyone the same bonus, a full-time/part-time employee bonus, one based on a percentage of salary, or none at all. If the team is used to a standard bonus and circumstances have changed, be sure to give them a heads-up so you don’t have a cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation kidnapping situation.

There are no rules that say you have to do all or any of this. But taking the time to celebrate the year's achievements and each person’s role in those successes goes a long way. Talk to the team and find out how they want to recognize the holidays. And as you plan, remember that feeling genuinely appreciated is a powerful motivator for everyone in the office (boss included). 

About the Author

Amanda Hill, BSDH, RDH, CDIPC

Amanda Hill, BSDH, RDH, CDIPC, is an enthusiastic speaker, innovative consultant, and award-winning author who brings over 25 years of clinical dental hygiene and education to dentistry. Recipient of OSAP’s Emerging Infection Control Leader award and an active participant with the advisory board for RDH magazine, DentistryIQ, and OSAP’s Infection Control in Practice Editorial Review Board and membership committee, Amanda (also known as the Waterline Warrior) strives to make topics in dentistry accurate, accessible, and fun. She can be reached at [email protected].