The holiday season is one of the most wonderful times of year. But employees can struggle to stay focused as they try to juggle work responsibilities with their increased personal activities and stresses. According to The National Retail Federation, online shopping is set to reach nearly $96 billion dollars this year! With the almost-constant internet access available at most workplaces, as well as the proliferation of smart phones, the temptation to accomplish this online shopping during work hours (when gift recipients won’t be looking over their shoulder!) is often hard for some employees to resist.
Keep your employees focused and your productivity on track this holiday season with these five handy tips:
- Set employee and company goals. Take a moment to review what happened last holiday season. Did sales decline? Were your yearly goals met? As the holiday season approaches, be clear with your employees on where they currently stand and where they are expected to be with performance benchmarks. If appropriate, reward outstanding performance with clearly-defined bonuses; this could take the form of flexible hours, extra time off, or monetary rewards. If employees finish the year with high productivity and a sense of being appreciated, they will be ready to go into the New Year with a positive outlook.
- Be a leader and set a good example. If you are asking your employees to meet certain standards, you need to be meeting them, too. Although we often feel management positions should have perks, don’t forget that these are also the positions that set the tone for the entire organization. Minimize your time away from the office. Keep your stress levels under control – everyone has extra claims on their attention at this time of year, and increased negativity at work does not lead to increased productivity. Stay professional and you will encourage your employees to do the same without needing to say a word.
- Offer flexible schedules. Everyone is a little busier during the holidays. Some have family visiting, some have increased commitments to their religious organizations, some take their extended annual vacations at this time. Allowing a flexible schedule during the holiday season is often more appreciated than receiving a monetary bonus and can directly lead to sustained productivity. Consider offering employees the opportunity to coordinate with one another and arrive late or leave early one day per week. If applicable, offer employees the option of working from home a certain percentage of the time. Being appreciative of your employees and accommodating their needs can assure quality time spent on work.
- Build relationships with social and charitable activities. The holiday season is a tough time for some, and offering non-obligatory activities at the office can help employees feel more connected and valued. Many also want to engage in the community at this time of year, but may feel stretched too thin by conflicting obligations. Consider holding a toy drive in your office or coordinating a volunteer opportunity at a local non-profit during work hours. An employer who encourages consideration of others will see this reflected in teamwork and a willingness to “go beyond”.
- Celebrate! The holiday season can be stressful. Enjoy the company of your co-workers by holding a party. A winter-themed party that allows everyone to participate regardless of religious beliefs is most appropriate. Decorate the office and play music. Encourage employees to bring their favorite holiday foods and share their favorite traditions. Prepare ice-breaking and bonding games such as charades, employee-related trivia, and company-related bingo. Acknowledging the desire to celebrate and setting aside a specific time will limit time spent off-task “sneaking” it in.
The holiday season is a busy time of year and distractions are inevitable. By acknowledging this and taking proactive steps, you can minimize your employees’ stress and maintain productivity.