'Tis the season for shopping, holiday parties and gift-giving. But amidst the hustle and bustle, when can employees get actual work done? If you're a business leader looking at your bottom line in December, you may be wondering how to maintain employee productivity without sounding like Scrooge.
"I personally enjoy this time of year, but we see the most distractions for our employees and management," says Thomas Ayres, partner at Daigle & Travers Insurance. "Wrapping up the year is stressful and time-consuming enough. Worrying about travel, shopping and wrapping presents compounds the craziness."
Despite the distractions, Ayres manages to maintain employee productivity in December by encouraging workers to enjoy the holidays, while making it clear that the company expects continued output.
"Our employees decorate their cubicles, and we host an offsite party," says Ayres. "However, we expect our staff to be fully present in their work days and to leave holiday stresses at the front door. We run things loose, but maintain the same expectation of excellence."
The following business leaders share their tactics for celebrating the holidays while keeping distractions to a minimum so that employee productivity remains high.
Reward Employee Productivity
"During the holiday season, employees tend to evaluate the past year and look forward to the next one. That makes this a critical time of year for employers to show their teams how much they value and appreciate all they do throughout the year. To help ensure that morale and employee productivity remains high during the holidays, we recognize the team's hard work and reward them for a job well done."
—Hani Goldstein, CEO and co-founder, Snappy
"While we embrace the festivities and holiday atmosphere, we keep our goals visible, monitor employee productivity and keep expectations high. This includes offering a bonus that's tied into performance—on top of the regular holiday bonus. We set a year-end goal that's obtainable and have created an additional sales performance incentive fund that people can earn from if the set goal is reached."
—Trent Urban, president, The WireNut
"The holiday season is a great time to recognize and reward employees. Acknowledge those who put in extra hours during the holiday bustle. Let them know their hard work didn't go unnoticed and that they're appreciated. If it's not in the budget to offer a monetary reward, giving time off is often equally appreciated."
—Jeh Lin, chairman and CTO, VAVA
"Creating an engaging workplace helps alleviate distractions and ensures employee productivity. We do this by motivating our employees and highlighting their accomplishments company-wide, which boosts morale. We end the year with a holiday party where we celebrate the hard work everyone put in all year long."
—Pete Lamson, CEO, JazzHR
Anticipate the New Year
"Because many businesses have abbreviated schedules during the holidays, it's no surprise that the holiday season means a drop in employee productivity. To offset this, our company makes a real effort to put several meetings on the calendar to take place in January. We find that scheduling business helps set realistic new-year goals, rather than lower end-of-year expectations."
—Jodi Andersen, co-founder, How I Met My Dog
"On top of the celebrations, the end of the year is a time of self-assessment and review. We encourage employees to pause and reflect on the past months and look to the future to see what they're hoping to achieve in the year ahead. In year-end meetings, we celebrate the hard work that has taken place over the last 12 months."
—Kingsley Macey, chief people officer, MOO
"The end of the year is an excellent time for retrospection. Employees have a chance to reflect on the past year in terms of what went well and what can be improved. It's also a great time to slow down and think about where you want the business to be in the coming year and what you need to do to get there. Such planning and anticipation helps keep employee productivity high."
—Zouhair Belkoura, CEO, Keepsafe
Acknowledge those who put in extra hours during the holiday bustle. Let them know their hard work didn't go unnoticed and that they're appreciated.
—Jeh Lin, chairman and CTO, VAVA
Stress Work-Life Balance
"It's important to foster an appropriate work-life balance, especially during the busy holiday season. Though working from home isn't a regular occurrence at our company, we do see that opportunities to work virtually can increase employee productivity at this time of year. We ensure that all employees have access to app-oriented, mobile-friendly technology so that we can all stay connected on the go."
—Aaron Hoey, CEO, Amour Vert
"When it comes to productivity, people often think about what's done in the office and throughout the workday, when in reality what's most important is how people treat themselves outside the office. The most important component of a productive workday is a good night's sleep. We encourage employees to prioritize taking care of themselves."
—Nicholas Bennett, CEO and founder, Reviv Blanket
"Don't be afraid to have your business take time off during the holidays. We are closed the last week of the year. We ask our employees to work really hard during the first three weeks and take the last week off to celebrate the holidays with family."
—Sam Clavell, CEO, Life Giving Chiropractic
"While it's important to be flexible with time off and flex hours during the holidays, accountability is the most effective way to ensure employee productivity. We give our staff a line of sight into how their work directly affects the success of the company. Each person is given a metric/number that he or she is measured by and recognized for. This helps to keep everyone focused."
—Richard Milam, CEO, Enablesoft
"Looking forward to the holiday season can be exciting, but it's equally important to maintain employee productivity. Our employees are aware of the importance of completing their work and understand that others count on their deliverables to complete tasks. We encourage our employees to finish the year strong, as doing so allows them to feel that they topped off a productive year on the highest note before going into a rewarding holiday and brand new year."
—Phuong Uyen Tran, deputy CEO, THP Beverage Group
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