The festive season is a great time to celebrate your company’s success of the last year and for employees to forge closer relationship with colleagues, outside of the day to day work environment.
Christmas is also a time of distractions – parties, shopping, socialising. These can all have an impact on productivity – as the festive seasons gets into full swing it is very easy for people to ‘check out’ physically and mentally.
Research by Peakon, a Dutch firm who looked at employee data in 2016, showed 54% of UK workers start thinking it’s holiday time from 16th December. From this date, workers, particularly the younger generation give up doing any serious work. Older workers show a little more stamina and carry on working for a few more days, but, by 20th December, they have also given into the festive feeling!
Managing staff morale in December is the key to maintaining productivity so here are six measures you can implement that will enable you to embrace the festive season whilst boosting employees’ morale and productivity.
Introduce weekly competitions
A competitive environment can increase productivity so consider creating performance-based competitions amongst teams.
Breaking goals down into smaller, weekly chunks will enable more people to get involved as their chance of winning won’t be as affected by external commitments.
Potential competitions could include reaching set sales targets, completing a specific volume of work or, in service-led companies, volume of positive feedback from customers.
Prizes don’t need to be expensive, they just need to be something that someone would value this time of year for example:
- “Passes” for late start or early finish
- An extra ½ day holiday
- Free lunch
- Small cash prize
- Festive treats
Re-allocate work load
With so many competing demands and expectations during the holidays, and colleagues and managers taking time off, many employees can start to feel overwhelmed as their to-do list increases while their time shrinks. This can lead to burnt out employees and a decrease in overall productivity.
It’s important therefore to ensure there is a fair workload across all your teams so that all your employees are able to meet both their work and personal commitments, without it affecting deadlines, sales, or customer service.
To help this, encourage managers to develop a list of critical projects and deadlines for the remainder of the Christmas period, and ascertain what capability the team has. They should take into consideration holidays and any pre-booked flexi-time/ late starts or early finishes.
It may then be necessary to readjust project splits during this period to enable a more even distribution of tasks.
Introduce flexible working hours
In the lead up to Christmas, people find they have more things going on in their personal and work life. Meeting the demands of attending family events, such as school plays, Christmas shopping and attending Christmas events organised by suppliers or business partners, can make it difficult for people to maintain the usual working hours, without lots of added stress.
Research by Cascade HR found that nearly a half of workers believe that introducing flexible working hours can help reduce stress in the workplace.
From the start of December you could introduce flexible working hours by offering people the opportunity to work 7 am to 3 pm, for instance. Alternatively consider giving your employees an additional personal day or half day. They can then use this time to finish off their Christmas shopping, or attend the school Christmas production.
Show employees they’re valued
An employee that feels valued is more motivated and engaged. During the holiday season there are a number of simple ways to show your employees you value them, helping to raise morale, and ensure employees remain engaged and productive up until the Christmas break.
Some suggestions include:
- Handwritten thank you cards – try to avoid sending a generic companywide email, as it will have more meaning if you can thank your employees individually
- Simple personalised gifts – try to find something that will be of value to your employees, for example a voucher to their favourite restaurant, money off a pampering session or chocolates from an upmarket chocolatier
- Small bonuses – whether your budget is large or small, a Christmas bonus can help to show your appreciation and making employees feel valued
See our article on increasing employee happiness to find more ways a business can improve the value its employees feel.
Support those who don’t look forward to Christmas
Christmas may not be a happy time for everyone. It can bring emotional, economical and physical demands that can affect some more than others. Some employees may not have friends and family around to enjoy the holidays with, for others socialising, entertaining and the pressure to find the ‘perfect gift’ can take a toll on a person’s mental wellbeing.
You can offer support to those who may find Christmas a challenging time by offering them access to professional counsellors. Benenden’s Healthcare for business product offers 24/7 access to a psychological wellbeing helpline, where employees can speak to a trained professional who can help with a range of topics including relationship worries, employment anxiety and bereavement.
Read our articles on Supporting employees who are lonely and Supporting employees who are suffering with bereavement for further tips on helping people who may not be looking forward to Christmas for these reasons.
Rethink the Christmas party
The office Christmas party is a great way to re-inspire workers and boost team morale. It recognises all the hard work employees have put in over the year, and provides an opportunity for them to unwind and enjoy themselves. However, it’s important to ensure the type of party works for your employees and your business, especially as nearly two out of every five workers have previously decided not to attend the Christmas party, according to the CIPD.
Instead of organising one party for everyone, you could consider organising team lunches so that people don’t feel pressured into attending an evening event. This could also help with attendance as each team could arrange it for a date that works for them.
Or, how about holding the Christmas party in January. This may be a ‘high’ that people need to help them get over the ‘January blues’.
If employees are feeling ‘all partied out’ you could suggest doing something different to the traditional office party this year. There are some fun alternatives to a boozy night in the local pub in our article, ‘7 ideas for alcohol free team socials’.
Do you have any tips for ensuring productivity doesn’t slip during the festive period? Let us know on Twitter or LinkedIn using #officeproductivity
This content originally appeared on Benenden’s workplace hub where employers can find a range of related articles to help with their health and wellbeing strategy.