Don't Be a Grinch: Celebrate with the Staff

DECEMBER 11, 2017
We may all have different religions that come with different holidays and beliefs, but one thing we can all agree on is that the holiday season is a great time to give thanks and celebrate. This year, an employee at our independent pharmacy kindly opened her home to the entire staff and their spouses. She hosted a potluck party, and we had a lot of laughs playing Heads Up. When I worked at the chain, we celebrated the winter holiday season by either going out to dinner at a local restaurant or having a party at my house. We always played Taboo after dinner, and years later, still have hilarious memories from those nights. I truly think that having a holiday get-together during the most stressful time of the year at pharmacies is a fantastic way to boost morale, have fun, and show the staff some appreciation.

Here are some fun things that can be done in the pharmacy to boost morale:
  • Hang stockings with each employee's name on the front, and put fun things in the stocking, such as a scratch-off lottery ticket, cozy socks, candy, etc. It is easy to find things at the local dollar store and Five Below.
  • Clean out one of the pharmacy "junk" drawers and designate it as a candy drawer. Fill it with candy canes, holiday Hershey kisses, and other fun seasonal sweet treats. This can also be a year-round candy drawer. The staff will appreciate this, especially because working in a pharmacy does not allow much time to eat.
  • Have an ugly sweater competition and give the winner a small prize.
  • Decorate the pharmacy. In addition to the stocking, use lights and any other decorations that make the workspace feel festive. Make wreaths out of empty medicine stock bottles or find other creative ideas on Pinterest.
  • Plan a Secret Santa gift exchange. There are many variations and budgets to use. Try doing this between the front store and pharmacy to help everyone feel like a team.
  • Place an Elf on a Shelf.
  • Organize a cookie exchange. Have everyone bake a large amount of a different type of cookie and then you all the employees share and bring home a variety of cookies
There are many ways to celebrate outside the pharmacy. One fun bonding experience is giving back to the community. Organize a group from the pharmacy to volunteer somewhere meaningful. Jessica, a pharmacy data entry supervisor in Indiana, tells me that her team adopts a family for the holidays and provides dinner and gifts for them. What an amazing way to give back.

Get-togethers at someone's house can be easy and fun. Potluck or catered events are always nice. Festive drinks are a nice touch, though make sure that there are designated drivers or plan to hire Ubers. Play traditional games such as Outburst, Scattergories, or Taboo. Or use an iPhone or iPad to find fun party games such as Heads Up, Just Say It, Party Doodles, and Reverse Charades. Set up a karaoke machine, and everyone will have a blast singing and dancing. Another idea is to watch a holiday movie or a funny television show, such as pharmacy comedy "Vials" on Amazon. 

If the team would rather go to a fun venue, try a restaurant, a Dave and Busters arcade, a bowling alley, a dinner theater, or a trampoline place.

Meanwhile, make sure to buy gifts for staff members. Gift cards or cash are always appreciated, along with a personal note of thanks and appreciation.

There are so many ways to engage employees and boost morale this holiday season. Please share ways you are celebrating the holidays with your team members by emailing me (karenmichelleberger@gmail.com).

Karen Berger, PharmD
Karen Berger, PharmD
Karen Berger, PharmD, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in 2001. She has worked in community pharmacies for over 16 years as a Pharmacist in Charge, staff, and floater pharmacist for a large chain. Currently, she is a pharmacist at an independent pharmacy in Northern NJ. She can be reached at karenmichelleberger@gmail.com
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