Whenever there’s a holiday, no matter where it falls during the year and the work week, you know one thing’s for sure: Productivity is going to drop. But what if it didn’t have to?
The struggle is real. During December alone, studies show that more than two-thirds of workers report being less productive compared to other months. Employee absenteeism and distraction pose significant costs to the overall economy and your bottom line in particular. Even non-holiday events can have a high cost: The 2017 solar eclipse cost the U.S. an estimated $700 million in lost productivity. For every 14 minutes employees spend shopping online at work during CyberMonday, employers can lose $450 million in productivity/wages.
However, holidays are a reality, as are special events such as the Super Bowl. Instead of fighting them, your workplace and office policies can embrace them. Yes, any of these non-work occasions can temporarily lead to less work getting done at the office. However, your workplace can implement strategies that turn those hectic occasions into opportunities for team-building, goal-setting, deadline completion, and morale-boosting.
Instead of just buffering short-term productivity losses, you can maintain and even boost productivity around holidays. Read on to learn how.
Cater a celebratory lunch
Food is integral to many holidays and special events. Use that to your advantage by catering a workplace breakfast or lunch.
While many holidays can be associated with big meals and heavy foods, aim for lighter fare, perhaps interspersed with one or two holiday favorites. That way, you won’t have to deal with the productivity loss of a food coma. Research shows: The right wholesome foods can boost an energy and concentration.
That catered lunch is also a great opportunity to encourage team building, facilitate inter-department networking, and serve as a brainstorming session for upcoming initiatives that can benefit the bottom line.
Schedule a work-from-home day before or after the holiday
Whatever day a holiday is, it’s going to disrupt workflow. When a holiday falls in the middle of the week or on either side of a weekend, it’s often harder to maintain productivity.
Roll with it by scheduling a remote or flexible work day that falls before or after the holiday. Work with employees and discuss options such as telecommuting or working different hours that day. A change of scenery can be motivational. This flexibility shows you’re willing to help employees find a balance between getting work done and accommodating a holiday.
Recognize a job well done
The December holiday season falls at the end of the calendar year. It’s a festive time of high spirits and reflection on what matters. That also makes it a great time for employers to recognize a job well done.
Whether it’s one-on-one meetings, a company lunch, or another occasion, set up times around the holiday season to acknowledge employee accomplishments. Tally company successes and share accomplishments with everyone in the organization. Handwritten holiday cards from team leaders, managers, or executives give a personal touch that shows genuine appreciation. This can also be a good time to firm up promotions or reward employees financially with a holiday or end-of-year bonuses.
The resulting excitement and good will can motivate employees to finish out the holiday season productively.
Schedule meetings and deadlines appropriately
Holidays entail busy schedules with family events, children and school, parties, and other occasions outside of the office. Work needs to get done and goals need to be met, but employers can build goodwill and maintain productivity when they schedule meetings and deadlines that don’t leave employees scattered and scrambling to make time for everything else.
That doesn’t mean that you throw workplace schedules out the window for every school play or holiday tree lighting. It just means showing some sense and sensitivity. Acknowledge that your employees need flexibility outside the office and make it clear that you will do everything you can to accommodate people’s needs during a busy season.
Especially around the holidays, schedule meetings and deadlines so you set your organization up for success. What are the truly high-priority goals that must be met? What can be left until after the holidays?
Examine how meetings are structured. Can you shorten—or even drop—certain meetings? If team members are free, they can better focus on completing projects and meeting goals.
These times of year can also be great for stepping back from day-to-day work and focusing instead on big-picture goals and future initiatives. Holidays can be disruptive at the office, but they also shake people out of routines, leading to new ideas and fresh perspectives.
Gamify projects or assignments
Those goals and deliverables you defined as priorities to finish before the holiday? When work hours seem like they’re slowly ticking toward the end of the day before that precious holiday, it can be hard to motivate people to put on their A-game and get things done. That’s where gamification and incentives come in handy.
Allow plenty of flexibility
The key to holiday productivity? Flexibility.
Holidays are a natural time for a slowdown. After all, it’s not just your workplace that experiences holidays. The same slowdowns and pressures apply across the board.
The added obligations and stresses that can come with the holidays can decrease employee productivity. Being flexible means letting go of what does not need to be done in advance of the holiday while setting clear expectations on what does need to be accomplished before everyone can kick back.
If you allow flexibility with working arrangements, start times, and priority of projects, then employees will be more likely to go that extra mile to meet those goals. Before holidays hit, set guidelines on how your workplace can have flexible hours during holiday periods.
Clarify what you aren’t willing to budge on. For example, some workplaces don’t allow online shopping at work on CyberMonday. Send clear communications on what is and is not allowed.
Or consider a half day so people can finish up early and have the holidays to look forward to.
Avoid emailing or business calls
If the office is closed for the holiday, keep it closed. There may be an occasion where an emergency requires all hands on deck. Typically, though, a holiday is a holiday. Emails, business calls, and meetings can all wait until everyone is back in the office.
If you set priorities in the workplace for scheduling goals and meeting deadlines prior to the holiday, odds are it’ll be easier to take the time off and have your mind out of the office.
If someone does need to be on-site or on-hand for emergencies, make sure the company compensates accordingly with overtime, a bonus, additional time off at a different time of year, or the first chance to put in a time-off request.
Embrace holidays at work
There’s no getting around it: The holidays can disrupt business and lower productivity. But holidays are also a fact of life, and many people look forward to them every year.
Instead of fighting the holidays, embrace them. Employees who take a holiday break can also come back refreshed and recharged, ready to commit and knock out current projects and new initiatives. When you have demonstrated a willingness to be flexible with your people, you are far more likely to also see increased commitment and productivity.
The holidays don’t have to be a time of hectic disruption. When you work with the holidays and accommodate your employees, you can turn special occasions into a productive time that works for your business. And that’s a gift worth giving any time of year.