Here’s a question to ponder as the darker evenings start to set in – have you planned the practice’s Christmas yet? Will this be the usual lavish affair or is it time for a few changes? In true A Christmas Carol fashion, let’s review Christmas past!
Starting with annual leave. Is this offered on a first come, first served basis? If this works in your practice, that’s great. However, if this is the catalyst for the yearly staff barney then perhaps it is time to introduce something new. Once patients have picked up their double prescriptions it does quieten down, so could you allow a few more people time off? Conversely, many practices ban leave from mid December to the second week in January. Just saying!
Do you grant Christmas shopping days or an early finish on Christmas Eve (when you brush up your receptionist skills)? Can you really afford the leave? Withdrawing thiswould not be popular but should it help balance the books, so be it! You must, of course, inform staff of changes to the Christmas norm as soon as possible, allowing everyone time to get used to the idea and to change any plans they may have already made based on expectation and assumption.
What about staff Christmas presents? Are these the customary M&S vouchers (declared through PAYE (pay as you earn), of course) or top of the range food hampers? Could you revise Santa’s shopping list? If you do decide to scale down the presents it might be wise to make staff aware in advance so avoiding nasty surprises when this year’s gifts are handed out.
Remember to apply the same prudent approach to Christmas in other ways around the practice too. That 12ft Norwegian pine Christmas tree in the waiting room and the complimentary chocolates on the reception desk are possibly now a little too extravagant. How about buying a smaller, perhaps artificial, tree and removing the sweetie tin – which would do everyone’s waistline good.
One last word, whatever else you change please continue underwriting the Christmas party, the team do tough jobs, work extremely hard and pitch up every day. It is the season of goodwill and this is a chance for the practice to say thank you. Plus, it boosts team morale – check the photos on Facebook!