In the weeks leading up to Christmas, most workers are excited about the prospect of the Christmas break, as well as the parties that happen at this time of year. But this can also mean that employee motivation and workforce productivity takes a hit. According to a survey from Sodexo, 28% of employees say this is because they are winding down for the Xmas break and trying to avoid taking on new work.
Nevertheless, Christmas can be a critical time for many businesses, especially those in the retail sector, so it’s important to ensure that too much Christmas cheer doesn’t create a hangover when it comes to end of year profits. Fortunately, when it comes to workforce management, there are things you can do to get the balance right.
More requests for annual leave
One thing at this time of year that can affect productivity, as well as cause staffing issues, is employees using their annual holiday entitlement for extra days off for Christmas. For workers with family overseas, Christmas is the most logical time to use any remaining days of annual leave to supplement time off to visit family members, but this can mean competition and resentment between workers, if some are refused leave in order to cover those on holiday.
Furthermore, watching other colleagues winding down as they leave for the holidays early can be infectious, reducing workforce productivity further. To prevent problems, it’s important to make sure there are set protocols in place for approving leave at this time of year. Ideally, this should work on a first-come, first served basis, but make sure that employees are aware of the rules well in advance. This will also give management time to plan for any staffing shortfalls. The more flexible you can be, the better it will be for morale and employee motivation.
Get everyone into the Christmas spirit
Christmas cheer can be a motivator too – especially if your company has end of year targets. To get everyone in the mood, decorate the office and play Christmas music. At the same time, create a bit of competition with Christmas treats, or bonuses for workers who hit targets throughout the month. This can really help when it comes to boosting morale and performance.
Offering flexible working hours, or the opportunity to work at home at this time of year, especially for those working over the Christmas period, can be useful too. This gives employees the chance to get their Christmas shopping done during business hours, reducing the stress that comes with the festive season and helps you demonstrate a commitment towards a sound work/life balance.
Together for Christmas and the New Year ahead
As with so much in the workplace, it’s important to find the happy balance between recognising the time of year and driving the organisation towards key business objectives – especially if you want to ward off the January blues in the New Year. Plan ahead by calling a meeting, perhaps just before the office party, to discuss objectives for the New Year. Here, give workers the opportunity to offer ideas of how things can be improved. When everyone is given a voice, especially at this time of year, employees get a greater sense of togetherness, which can work wonders for teamwork, cohesion and staff morale.
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