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Women working as cashier

Working During the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

minute read

The holiday season is here! City sidewalks and busy sidewalks are dressed in holiday style.

At the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus we learned that all non-clinical, non-essential personnel will have the week between December 25-29 off from work (with pay). Our campus will be officially closed for business. What terrific news, for those of us (me included) who are in non-clinical, non-essential positions. And yet, I am reminded of the countless workers who will be working during this upcoming season.

During my 20s, I worked in Colorado’s ski industry. The week of December 25 is one of the busiest weeks of the year for the ski industry, and for many industries across our country. I worked on December 25 for many years in-a-row and I remember vividly how I was treated by customers on this important holiday.

This year, my hope for all of us who are privileged to receive paid time off from work over the holiday season is to treat our fellow human beings with gratitude, kindness, compassion, and respect.

Here are a few suggestions on how to treat essential workers this holiday season:

Treat people with respect.

People who work in the service industry know that their work is all about customer service. Many go above and beyond to treat customers kindly. As consumers, let us offer the same thing in return. Thank the people working in gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and in the hospitality industry. Provide them with an extra tip or gift, bring them a cup of coffee. Small gestures go a long way at this time of year.

Extend a little understanding.

The next time you interact with an essential employee, try to remember that they are probably shouldering an extra burden during this season. Remember that the people working for the airlines, in law enforcement, and emergency personnel are all there to protect your safety. Be mindful of how you treat people and what you ask for.

Practice compassion.

Let us make a commitment to band together to be a little kinder to one another as 2023 draws to a close. People working in healthcare and public health are experiencing high rates of burnout. The one thing we are in control of is the way we treat other people. So, practice kindness and compassion. After all, it does not cost you anything to be kind.

If you have a complaint, be kind.

If there is something a business can do to better serve you, they likely do want to hear about it. The people working at your favorite store don't set the company policies on returns and pricing. Just remember to show kindness and empathy when you share your feedback. Assume good intentions, even when people make mistakes.

So let us celebrate and remember that our actions during the holiday season can truly be a cause for children laughing, people passing, and meeting smile after smile.

Written by David Shapiro, senior program manager and partnerships at the Center for Health, Work & Environment and lead advisor of Health Links®. In this role, David oversees day-to-day operations of the program and advises organizations in the Certified Healthy Workplace network, sharing resources and recommendations to support workplace health and safety. During the holiday season, David enjoys celebrating interfaith services and spending quality time with his family.

Topics: Worker Health