It is the general consensus that in December the holiday spirit is already flowing freely, and that the working spirit is sitting under a palm tree drinking pina coladas.
Like most common wisdoms, there is a degree of truth to it. Indeed, according to the Leadership Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D.) survey by Leadership Management Australasia, 38 per cent of employees report a drop in their productivity over the Christmas period, though only 8 per cent of those report a dramatic reduction.
However, there is good news. The same survey also reveals that 27 per cent of employees report a productivity increase, with 35 per cent saying it remains the same. Also, 30 per cent of that unproductive time is spent socialising with clients, which can be an important part of the business relationship.
So how can you keep your staff engaged and productive before the work Christmas party? The trick is to use the situation to your advantage rather than try to fight it. Here are some ideas.
1. Focus on the future
The flip side of holiday fever is that people are often feeling more creative and more future focused, which can be a golden opportunity for your business to channel this energy into planning and preparing for the year to come.
Sit your staff down for some round tables on the challenges of the year that was and how to do things differently when everyone returns in the New Year.
2. Cheers to Christmas cheer
People are generally feeling positive around the holiday season, so why not use this opportunity to really engage your customers by getting idle staff to give them a call, wish them a Merry Christmas and ask them how they found doing business with you.
And don’t hesitate to share any positive client rapport with your team. Good news is always welcome at this time of the year.
3. Sit down with your team
Calling your staff in one by one to discuss their career options and plans for next year can yield some real gold. It gets them thinking, gives them something to return to after the holidays and lets them know you appreciate their efforts.
Knowing that you are thinking about their future is likely to get them re-engaged in their present work. It’s also an opportunity to discuss any issues they may be facing and find some resolutions.
4. Build your brand through community engagement
The unfortunate side of Christmas is that for a percentage of the population it’s a really tough time, with increases in homelessness, family discord and mental health issues. As projects are winding down, you might want to give your staff the opportunity to give some time to community and charitable causes, or raise funds during your work Christmas party.
It’s a benefit to your team with engagement and loyalty, and it contributes to your corporate social responsibility.
5. Take care of the little things
Every business has those issues and tasks that keep getting put to the backburner while they get on with their core business. If you have a lag in customer-focused work at this time, it’s a great opportunity to stocktake the store room, carry out repairs and maintenance, audit the books, review business processes and get a little staff training in.
The more productive you are now, the less you’ll have to worry about in 2017.
If you really need some extra productivity out of your staff before the work Christmas party, you can reward them for it with performance-based bonuses like extra time off or extra paid holidays in return for meeting extra KPIs.
Be productive now so you can enjoy the work Christmas party
We don’t have to accept that Christmas is a productivity black hole if we are willing to take a creative look at how we can use it to our advantage.
This is a unique time of the year when most people are reflecting on the year that was, and planning ahead for the wealth of opportunities to come.