Presents are my Favorite!

Scenes from Elf the movie –

I love Christmas.  The holiday season is awesome, and I strive to enjoy every minute of it.  I find joy in decorating my house, choosing the tree, seeing the lights and blowups in my neighborhood – it all puts a smile on my face and fills my heart.  I adore Christmas movies and getting holiday drinks at Starbucks.  In the years before we had kids, my husband and I would have an annual ‘holiday date’ to see the lights at the Columbus Zoo.  All of these memories I will cherish forever. 

But what I really love is giving gifts.  I usually start in July of each year (I like to spread out the monetary spend!)  You never know what you’ll find and when.  I love the hunt – coming up with a great idea for someone, tracking a gift down, finding a great bargain.  I picture the person unwrapping the gift and being so happy/surprised/touched.  One year, I took my girls and my nieces and nephew to a place that is meaningful to my mom for a photo shoot.  I then created a photo collage, framed it, and wrapped it up.  Needless to say, my mom was beyond thrilled with the gift (she cried).  It was a very special moment for both of us. 

For me, the love of gift giving at Christmas has a deeper meaning.  It is symbolic of the greatest gift ever given – Jesus Christ, the son of God, who was given to save all people from sin.  As I buy and wrap gifts, I try very hard to stay focused on this purpose.  I know it is easy to get lost in the shuffle of the holidays and to lose the real ‘why’.  My daily devotions practice really helps me to stay in peace and to remember what truly matters. 

Seeing as I love to give gifts – I am thinking about the HR gifts I am going to give the employees in my organization next year.  You’re probably doing the same thing – updating the handbook, maybe adding a little PTO, considering new/different benefit offerings.  These are all good things, and your people will appreciate them.  But if I can make a suggestion to all the wonderful HR pros out there?  Give your employees the ultimate gift – focus on people and not processes. 

HR is inundated with policies and procedures, checklists, spreadsheets, and deadlines.  We are responsible for A LOT of stuff.  It is so easy to get caught up in the ‘to do’s’ and checking the boxes.  But at the end of the day, what is the reason for all of this?  Why do we do what we do? 

EMPLOYEES!  PEOPLE!  The ones doing the work that moves the company forward! 

In 2023, I urge all of us in HR to focus on our employees as the people they are.  Take the time to talk with your people and get to know them.  Consider each person individually – what do they need and want in their careers and lives?  How can you support them to be their best?  Where can you advocate for your people within the organization?  You will not find these items on the grand ‘HR Year End To Do List’. 

To be successful, this is going to require a re-focus to what you do and how you do it.  A key piece is giving people the benefit of the doubt.  Assuming positive intent.  I do not see enough of this happening in the day-to-day practice of HR in today’s business world.  I get it – you listen to people complain all day every day.  You have heard every excuse under the sun.  You are beyond done with your boss droning on and on about the same thing for months with no action plan.  You’ve had enough!  And that makes it really hard to want to embrace these people at the end of day.  But you have to do it.  People are more than their complaints and their excuses.  The big HR hug of compassion and empathy is what most people truly need.  Let’s pause on jumping immediately into disciplinary processes and focus more on asking questions to understand our employees.  Let’s work with them to identify problems and solutions.  This may be very uncomfortable in practice, but it is so important.  Challenge yourself to be a more people-centric HR leader in 2023. 

HR, I ask you to consider this as you prepare for the new year and define your goals.  What gifts will you give? 

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year! 

P.S. I am contributing to a new book entitled ‘People Fusion’ that will be launched on January 20th!  Learn more here:

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