How to Prevent Year-End Employee Burnout

Don't let unmotivated workers drag on your business just as your trying to finish off the year with a bang. Here are some tips to keep your staff pumped up.
December 14, 2012

Scott Anthony’s employees can’t wait for Dec. 14—the day when they will split every penny spent at Fox’s Pizza Den in Punxsutawney, Pa., as part of Employee Bonus Day.

Here’s how it works: Anthony, owner of Fox’s and author of Profits in the Pie, and his employees pick one Friday in December to have a sale. They choose a featured item on the menu to exclusively sell and then tell everyone they know to come out and eat or buy gift certificates. On the chosen Friday, employees split everything taken in, including sales taxes (Anthony pays for them out of pocket). 

How is this worth it for Anthony if he isn’t making any money?

He explains that his employees get so excited for bonus day that they market around town more than he ever could. The result: engaged, excited staff and goodwill from the community. 

“Customers want to patronize businesses that are good to their people,” he says. “There are reciprocal affects of this day, too. All of the gift certificates purchased get used in January when I need the sales.”

Here are even more year-end tips for engaging employees.

Allow Flexibility

Employees can get irritable if work hours prevent them from personal holiday shopping. Consider offering a few hours off in the middle of the day to tend to personal errands, recommends Jason Carney, HR director at WorkSmart Systems, a professional employer organization in Indianapolis.

“Think about the personal stressors your employees are dealing with during the holidays,” suggests Carney. “A little flexibility can make a real difference and allow them to stay engaged at work.”

Organize an In-Office Fair

If flexibility isn’t an option for your business, consider inviting local retailers into your office and holding a holiday fair, suggests Laurie Erdman, wellness coach at Chronic Wellness Coaching in Arlington, Va.

“That way, your staff won’t need to leave the workplace to get their shopping done,” she says. “It also creates a sense of community and helps local businesses.” 

Host a Contest

Anthony believes that cash is the biggest motivator, so he holds monetary contests before the holiday season. For one of them, he prints 50-percent-off pizza coupons on free business cards (from He distributes the cards to employees and asks them to sign the back of each card. Staffers are then tasked with giving away as many cards as they can before the holidays.

“We will then count how many cards come back from each employee and whomever wins each week gets $50 cash,” says Anthony. “My employees get competitive, which is a good thing because it means more marketing for my business.” 

Throw a Party

Holiday parties are a great way for employees to let off steam, says Jonathan Rick, founder of The Jonathan Rick Group, a digital communications firm in Washington, D.C. Extra bonus: Business owners get a tax write-off.

“Allow your employees to bring significant others,” he recommends. “By encouraging conversation that doesn’t revolve around work, holiday parties can bolster morale and strengthen your work community.”

Read more posts about employee morale.

Photo: Thinkstock