It’s No Humbug – How to keep your workplace on track during the holidays without being a Scrooge!

‘Tis the season to be…

Jolly? Merry?

Try DISTRACTED.

Let’s be honest here. During the holidays, we all get a little bit off our games. Parties, shopping, vacations and family visits can cause even your best employees to lose their focus, sending productivity down the drain.

Obviously, you need to keep your staff working at peak efficiency during this “most wonderful time of the year.” But how can you do it without coming off like a real Scrooge? Try these ideas:

  • Use temporary staff to cover holiday vacations. Your staff has worked hard all year earning some well-deserved time off. Help them maintain a healthy work/life balance by making it easy to take their vacation time. Before things get too hectic, organize vacation schedules in one place, and then work with your staffing provider to get the coverage you need.
  • Create an upbeat atmosphere. Does your business become crazy this time of year? If so, stay one step ahead of the stress. Proactively create a working environment of camaraderie and positivity. Help your employees realize that you’re all in this together, and that you can still have fun while you’re working really hard. An upbeat atmosphere during your busy holiday season can be downright infectious–try it, and you may be surprised at how well your staff responds!
  • Plan for productive downtime. Don’t let Parkinson’s Law (work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion) dictate your employees’ productivity levels. If your company is typically slow through the end of the year, plan to use the extra time wisely. Capitalize on this opportunity to tackle initiatives (improving processes, finishing backlogged work, preparing for 2013) you might not otherwise have the time to accomplish. When possible, switch things up so that employees are challenged by tasks that are novel for them. Keep them productive and focused, and those long December days will fly by.
  • Lead by example. Employees take their cues from you–every day of the year. If your attitude is lackadaisical, your staff will tend to slack off too. So stay focused on accomplishing your end-of-year goals, avoid the temptation to “knock off early” and set a good example.
  • Whistle while you work. If you follow the tips above, you and your employees will stay quite busy through the holidays. So find ways to inject some fun into your work! Play holiday music, decorate the office or treat employees to lunch on a particularly hectic day. And remember to say “Thank You!” Find small ways to celebrate as a group and make your days merry and bright.
  • Try to limit excessive overtime or weekend hours. When additional work is required due to seasonal demands, consider using temporary help to supplement your direct workforce. If possible, offer some flexibility in work shifts so employees can accomplish all their holiday errands. Finally, consider scheduling your office’s holiday celebrations during normal business hours, so you don’t take away from employees’ personal time.
  • Reflect upon and share accomplishments. One of the best ways to keep employees engaged is to acknowledge their hard work. The end of the year is the perfect time to reward employees for their contributions to your company’s success. So bring your staff together and share individual, team and company accomplishments. Merely being recognized for their efforts can greatly lift employees’ spirits during an otherwise stressful time of the year.

Your employees will respond to the holiday season in different ways. For some, it’s a time to relax, enjoy themselves and recharge their batteries. For others, it’s stressful and a source of distraction. As a leader, it’s your job to help everyone on your team stay positive, focused and performing at their best.

This post originally appeared as part of our monthly e-newsletter, Staff Matters, published by the fine folks at Haley Marketing Group.  

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