Workzone: How to extend the joy of the holidays in the workplace
It's that time of the year when many employees wonder if they should send some sort of holiday greeting to co-workers and members of the company's management team. And, if so, is an e-card or a traditional holiday card the best way to go?
Reference checking firm Allison & Taylor says yes, it is definitely a good idea to send your colleagues, boss -- and his or her boss -- an appropriate holiday greeting. Surveys have shown that holiday greetings are widely appreciated in the business world as a whole.
"It's an important way to send the message that you value your relationship with the company, and respect these people as individuals," said Jeff Shane, executive vice president at the Rochester, Mich., company.
The downside of sending holiday cards, Mr. Shane said, is when you fail to do it properly.
E-cards are generally not advised. Many senior managers are older and may reflect an "old-school" mentality that regards a greeting card sent electronically as inappropriate, perhaps even cavalier.
"E-cards tend to lack the personal touch of a card mailed individually to the boss's door," Mr. Shane said. "E-cards and social media holiday greetings are often sent en masse, or can be done as a spur-of-the moment response to a comment seen on Facebook or some similar venue. It is best, therefore, to stick to a traditional holiday card."
Is there a downside to sending Christmas cards as opposed to generic holiday cards?
Jacqueline Whitmore, owner of The Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla., recommends sending Happy Holiday cards as opposed to Christmas cards.
"You have to know your crowd," she said. "You have to be sure you don't offend anyone. If you have Jewish co-workers and clients and you send them Christmas cards it might not go over well. It's more appropriate to send Happy Holiday cards.
"Also, if you send a card of any kind, sign it with your own pen. So many people send pre-printed cards and don't even write a note on it. I recommend personalizing the card with a greeting and sign your own name."
Ms. Whitmore said you also should use a real stamp, rather than a metered stamp on your envelopes. And address the card with your own handwriting. Don't use a pre-printed label. You want to show some thought and effort. If you don't have time to send a holiday card by Saturday, she said, you should think of sending a Happy New Year card instead.
But it might not be a good idea to send holiday cards to everyone in your office, according to Steve Langerud, director of professional opportunities at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind.
"Most of the time you would follow the same rules as you would follow in your personal life, which is to send genuine holiday greetings only to the people who you have a relationship with," Mr. Langerud said. "In the case of co-workers and supervisors, sometimes you have a relationship and sometimes you don't.
"When you start sending blanket greetings to co-workers and supervisors, you put them in a position where they might feel an obligation to reciprocate when there may not even be a relationship."
Furthermore, there's always that work dynamic, which can be particularly tricky when it comes to employees and supervisors.
"There's always a power differential in that [employee/boss] relationship," he said. "I would say tread carefully. Listen to yourself and be honest about where that relationship stands between you and a co-worker or you and a supervisor."
First Published December 9, 2012 12:00 am