Once the trick-or-treat bags are brimming with miniature chocolate bars and the weird candies that only come out for Halloween, it’s time to trade the spiders and ghosts for mistletoe and holly. In most workplaces, the move toward the busiest holiday season of the year is marked less by the change in décor and more by the change in productivity. As workers focus more on their growing holiday to do list, the amount of work they do often slacks off. Read on for seven tips to keep your employees happily on task through the holidays without seeming like a killjoy.
1. Maintain Shared Calendars
One of the first things you can do to combat a lag in productivity is draw attention to everyone’s work schedules. It’s a good idea to send an email and ask your staff to mark on a shared calendar the hours and days they’ll be gone during the holiday season.
Workers can use an oversized calendar in a work room and hand write their vacation times or they can log it through a networked calendar system. As your team sees when people will be out, you can help them develop a plan to ensure they cover all projects and meet pending deadlines. Speaking of deadlines…
2. Create Due Dates During the Holiday Season
If you set out the expectation that workers complete certain projects or tasks during the busy months of November and December, they’re more likely to work toward that goal. Having few expectations because it’s the holiday season merely reinforces the mindset that it’s a time when workers spend less time on task.
While you may not want to complete the biggest project on your list during this time, you can find bite-size jobs for your employees to finish before the end of the year. To avoid sounding like a Scrooge, remind your staff that completing these assignments on time lets them end their year on a high note, something that’s sure to have a favorable impact on their performance review.
3. Help Employees Prioritize
Acknowledge to your staff that the holidays are a busy time, and offer to sit down with each person to develop a priority list. Doing so gives each worker a clear focus. The time they do spend being productive will be directed toward the most pressing projects. This exercise of creating a list of priorities goes hand in hand with setting deadlines that come up in November and December.
4. Reduce or Eliminate Distractions
Ask your employees to establish clear lines that prevent them from dealing with personal, holiday-related matters on the company’s time. Remind them that November and December are excellent times to use remaining vacation time they can’t carry into the New Year. This makes it clear that you’re willing to grant them time off to handle holiday shopping and the like, but it’s not acceptable to do their online Christmas shopping during business hours.
5. Open Opportunity for Telecommuting
You can incentivize productivity with opening the opportunity for employees to telecommute for a day or two during the holiday season. Consider offering a certain number of employees the option to work from home if deadlines are reached or if other goals are met. That way, employees have incentive to stay focused, are also rewarded with the convenience of working from home, but are still expected to complete a day’s worth of work. Is satellite Internet available in your area? If so, your employees can easily stay connected to the office and be productive while being able to work from the comfort of their home.
6. Discourage Employees from Taking Work Home Regularly
Employees who take their work home with them may feel a sense of entitlement to spend time the next day at work doing personal holiday-related business. After all, they worked during the evening hours when they’d normally be doing holiday planning. Ask workers to be diligent about keeping their personal lives separate from work, especially during the holidays.
7. Recognize the Holidays
Embrace the holiday spirit on some level. Schedule a gathering after hours to give employees the chance to catch up and discuss their holiday plans. If you hold this social event early in the season, you may preempt long hallway conversations where employees quiz each other on where they’re traveling or who they’re hosting for the holidays.
What are some of the biggest drains on productivity at your company during the holidays? Do you struggle as a manager to stay productive and focused at the end of the year?
Morgan Sims is a freelance writer who loves all things tech and social media. When she's not trying out new gadgets and tweeting she spends most of her time with her dog, cooking and staying active. Follow her @MorganSims00.
Small Biz Club is the premier destination for small business owners and entrepreneurs. To succeed in business, you have to constantly learn about new things, evaluate what you’re doing, and look for ways to improve—that’s what we’re here to help you do.