How to keep your AR team happy this holiday season

Nov 30, 2021 by Brandon Jones

The holiday season often means different things to different people. Many employees enjoy the extra time off to spend with family and friends, others enjoy traveling and new experiences and a few may even want to work a little harder at the office to catch up while it’s quieter. Regardless of your personal preferences, if you’re managing an accounts receivable team, the holidays are an excellent time to tune into what might make this period more meaningful for your employees. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind.

Attunement

Remember that not everyone appreciates the same things during the holiday season. If you’ve been working with your team for years, you probably have some idea of what matters most to your team members. If you don’t know your team that well, now is the perfect time to check-in, ask, and listen.

For example, most people will likely want extra time off during the holidays. While some organizations shut down operations for a week or two or at least provide several holidays toward the end of the year, many businesses will need to keep things going throughout

December. Work as a team to determine a vacation schedule now. Most employees will appreciate the give-and-take required so that everyone can have a much-needed reprieve.

If you discover that a few employees would prefer to work more hours during the holidays to earn extra money, take time off for another life event, or roll over extra days off for a longer vacation in 2022, take advantage of that as well. However, encourage habitual workaholics to take time off if they need it. It can be difficult to determine what certain people truly need. By listening carefully and getting creative, it may be possible to give more people what they desire most.

Flexibility

While most employees understand that not everyone can have all the days off during this time of year that they would like, everyone appreciates some extra flexibility. Perhaps some of your team members have children participating in holiday pageants or other school-related activities. Others may enjoy some afternoons off to pick up those perfect gifts for loved ones. If employees request a few hours off here and there with the ability to make up the extra work either on other days or later at home, try to see if you can reasonably accommodate their requests.

Even if the answer ends up being “no,” the fact that you spent the time listening and trying to brainstorm possible solutions will still be appreciated during this busy season.

Team-Building Generosity

The holidays are a great time to be thankful for all the good things in life, and there’s no better way to do that than by giving back to your community. In today’s day and age where more and more people expect businesses to support a cause or charity as part of their corporate mission, the holidays can be a great way to do more than donate money.

If your organization has a special cause it supports throughout the year, now is a good time to find out if your accounts receivable team can take a day and help out. Whether it be pulling together to work at a homeless shelter or food kitchen, sorting clothing or goods for a charity, or performing some physical labor for a non-profit, the experience promises not only to be rewarding at the individual level but can help your team bond back at the office as well.

Setting up collection drives for toys, clothing, food, gifts, or other necessities can be an ongoing effort during this time of year. Perhaps one of your employees is already involved in a charity that your entire team can support.

Signs of Appreciation

Everyone appreciates being recognized and thanked for a job well done. The holidays are an excellent way to show appreciation to your AR team that has worked hard all year long. Appreciation can come in many forms. While some businesses may have the funds to purchase small gifts, cut bonus checks, or throw a departmental party, a simple heartfelt, genuine note can do the trick as well.

As an accounts receivable manager, you have the privilege of directing and forming your team into a productive force within your business. Take the time to point out the gifts of each individual team member and recognize everyone’s unique contribution.

Setting time aside for some social cheer doesn’t have to be expensive. Encourage your team to bring in a dish to share for a long, relaxed lunch or fun desserts and treats that can be enjoyed over the course of a quieter afternoon. Taking away some of the “hectic” at work can be much appreciated this time of year.

Smart Planning

With the exception of certain industries, many companies recognize that the end of the year can be a slower time. Your accounts receivable team would probably not be receptive to a new time-intensive initiative scheduled to launch in December. Cut back your departmental commitments to the critical tasks and give everyone some breathing room.

For example, if you plan on implementing new technology or improved workflows, wait until the new year when everyone is back in the office, refreshed, and ready to get back to work. Be realistic in what you can expect to get done during this busy season. This will inevitably remove some of the work stress and give everyone the opportunity to take extra time off here and there when needed.

Communications

Although good communication is critical year-round, it can be even more important during the holidays due to increased levels of stress. Be sure you talk with your employees regularly, encourage huddles between team members if necessary, and keep lines of communication open with internal and external clients.

Be sure that end-of-year expectations are set reasonably and clearly so that anything promised can actually be delivered. While customers should still be expected to honor commitments such as paying invoices within agreed-upon terms, this busy time may mean that key contacts are out of the office or out of their regular routines. Being patient across the board within reason is always appreciated both internally and externally.

Team-Driven Ideas

Just because you are the manager of your department, that doesn’t mean you have to take all the holiday planning activities on yourself. Chances are, you’ll have someone on your team who may enjoy organizing a work-related celebration. Encourage your team members to brainstorm and organize among themselves, whether that be a secret Santa small gift exchange, a holiday dinner that includes partners and families, or a simple work luncheon at a local restaurant. Providing freedom can empower your team to get into the holiday spirit.

New Year’s Resolutions

As a manager, the holidays will zip by quickly, and you’ll be in the midst of another busy AR year. While it’s important to take time off personally, you may want to also brainstorm some ideas to keep your accounts receivable team happy well into the next year. Here are some thoughts to consider:

  • Recognition. Research shows that ongoing rewards and recognition of employees’ good performance throughout the year can make a big difference in satisfaction and retention. For example, team members who feel they work in an environment that recognizes their contributions are three times more likely to stay engaged.
  • Automation. If your AR team is still struggling with manual processes, give some thought to ways to make their lives easier long-term. For example, Paystand’s payment solution can help streamline and digitize payment workflows, making it easier for your team to collect and reconcile accounts with less manual effort.
  • Work-Life Balance. More and more people are seeking that work-life balance these days. If you haven’t already addressed this question in your organization, the new year might be a great time to try out some new creative ideas. Consider offering flexible hours, remote working arrangements, part-time opportunities for valued team members, or other benefits that can show you appreciate that personal life is important to your team.
  • Career Development. As more automation and technology enter the accounting arena, be sure to provide upskilling opportunities to your accounts receivable team. Explore new skills that you may need moving forward and begin training interested professionals in these areas. Not only will you make your team and company run more smoothly, but you’ll be providing a more challenging work environment for your team members.

The holidays come only once a year, and whether you cherish them or can’t wait for them to be over, it’s a great opportunity to reach out to find new and creative ways to please your accounts receivable team members. Keep flexibility, generosity, and relationships in mind, and your efforts will be well-received and appreciated.