Balancing client expectations and personal wellbeing in the festive period

Self-employment can be great for maintaining a good work-life balance, but December is often a hectic time for everyone, and it can be easy to end up feeling rundown and overwhelmed balancing family and personal responsibilities with client requirements.

Here are some tips for balancing meeting client expectations and maintaining your personal wellbeing during the busy Christmas period (or indeed at any other time!)

1. Set clear expectations early:

Communicate with your clients early about your availability during the festive period. This includes informing them about your working hours, response times, and any days you will be completely unavailable. Setting these expectations early helps manage client demands and reduces last-minute pressures.

2. Prioritise effectively:

Identify the most critical tasks that need to be completed before the holidays. Prioritising these tasks ensures that key responsibilities are handled efficiently, leaving less critical tasks for after the holiday period. Don’t beat yourself up for not finishing the year having done everything, be realistic about what is achievable and allow yourself to push back those things that aren’t critical.

3. Delegate responsibly:

If you work within a team, delegate tasks appropriately. Ensure that everyone’s workload is manageable and that no one is overwhelmed, especially during the holiday season. This not only helps with managing client expectations but also promotes a healthy work environment.

4. Use technology to your advantage:

Automate routine tasks where possible. This can save a significant amount of time and reduce the stress of manual handling, especially during busy periods, and of course once these systems are set up, it will help you on an ongoing basis as well, into the New Year and beyond.

5. Maintain regular communication:

Keep your clients informed about the progress of their projects. Regular updates, even if brief, can prevent misunderstandings and reassure clients that their needs are being addressed. They might be feeling overwhelmed too, and if they can see progress or at least notice that you are on top of things, it will relieve their stress, and avoid you receiving ‘chasing’ emails!

6. Encourage time off:

It’s important to lead by example. Encourage your team and your clients to take the necessary time off to recharge, and do so yourself. This not only benefits personal well-being but also ensures that everyone returns to work refreshed and more productive.

7. Set boundaries for work-life balance:

Be firm about your non-working hours and resist the temptation to check emails or messages during your time off. This helps in maintaining a healthy work-life balance and reduces burnout, and again will be a good habit to set now and continue into the New Year.

8. Offer flexible solutions:

If possible, offer flexible working solutions to your clients during the festive period. This could include virtual meetings instead of in-person ones or shifting deadlines to accommodate holiday schedules.

9. Prepare for emergencies:

Have a plan in place for urgent issues that might arise during your absence. This could involve having a colleague on standby or setting up an emergency contact protocol. There are unlikely to be any HR dramas erupting on Boxing Day, but having a protocol in place may relieve stress and reduce the temptation to look at emails.

10. Reflect and plan for the New Year:

Use this time to reflect on the past year’s achievements and challenges. This can help in planning more effectively for the new year, setting realistic goals, and improving client relationships.

Balancing professional responsibilities with personal well-being is key to managing the festive period, and will also ensure you are starting the New Year on a positive note.

If you’re thinking of starting your own HR consultancy and would like to discuss becoming a partner, do get in touch.