Every office has one: The very enthusiastic employee that loves to decorate at the holidays. Personally, I love decorating at the holidays. My house is always very festive and fun. But decorating your home and decorating your business are two very separate entities and should be treated as such.
As a medical practice owner, you have a responsibility not only to your patients, but to your staff as well, to remain professional and remember that not everyone has the same religious beliefs. It's a very fine line to walk at this time of year. I'm not suggesting that you have a Christmas wall decorated in red and green, a Hanukkah wall decorated in blue and white, a Kwanzaa wall decorated in black, green and red, a Boxing Day wall decorated in … what are the colors of Boxing Day? With America the melting pot of so many ethnic backgrounds, how do you best manage this potentially uncomfortable decorating debacle?
Here are a few ideas you can share with your staff to make sure the decorating does not get out of hand or offend anyone:
• Identify what holidays your staff and patients will be celebrating. Knowing up front your staff and clientele mix makes it easier to decorate.
• Keep it simple. By minimizing the tinsel you can pick a few select elegant pieces that represent several holidays and place them throughout your office.
• Patients often bring in treats and cards — you can place cards around a door frame or place them in a decorative basket.
• Have a festive bowl of fruit with a variety of colors out for patients, instead of the typical, holiday-specific cookies or candy. I actually remember a co-worker that really wanted to try one of my Christmas cookies, but couldn't because of his religion. I felt so bad that I hadn't considered this, I went home and made a whole batch of blue and white cookies just for him.
Obviously, it is not your first priority to try to please everyone, because in the long run there is typically someone not happy with the result. But keeping the holiday decorating minimal and mixed will put staff and patients at ease, show them you are compassionate to their personal views and traditions, and create a beautiful, festive environment that everyone can enjoy!
Coming up next week: The holiday party: what you responsible for and how can you minimize the fall-out before it happens.