Keep employees productive over Christmas: 4 ways to guarantee it

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With research suggesting that over half of UK workers mentally switch off for Christmas from 16 December (and 26% doubting they can fully focus past the second week of December) how can you keep employees motivated and engaged in the last month of the year?

Here we look at four actions to take to refocus dwindling attention spans in even the most festive of workplaces. 

1 Encourage competition

At the time of year when distractions really start to kick in, making things more competitive could help.

Depending on your sector and normal working targets, how about challenging teams to performance-based competitions? For example to reach set sales targets, process a certain amount of work or collect positive customer feedback.

Introducing healthy rivalry is a way to encourage team bonding and cohesion. And competitions with short-term goals help people stay focused against the odds. 

2 Think flexible working

In the lead up to Christmas, staff have more going on in their personal lives that could impact their ability to get work done. With school plays and Christmas shopping, to-do lists grow and job motivation can shrink.

So depending on your sector, being able to offer flexible hours for December can really ease the burden on staff.

This means perhaps an extra half day off, or starting later or finishing earlier, to get things done outside of work. Or for parents or carers the chance to base themselves from home more once the school term has finished. We wrote more about flexible working over Christmas, here

3 Rethink Christmas fun time

From novelty jumpers to embarrassing themes, Christmas parties are embedded in our workplace culture. The annual shindig can be a way to boost team morale, help people unwind and thank employees for their hard work.

Yet one study suggested that 37% of staff don’t go to their work event - and one of the reasons given is that they feel too stressed with work and home commitments in the lead up to Christmas.

Extra pressure to party against the odds can impact on employees’ morale and sense of wellbeing - ultimately running the risk of hitting productivity, too. So if you feel that the usual model of an evening Christmas party may not work for everyone, could team lunches work better? Or even a belated party in January?

Also bear in mind that some employees may not hold the typical happy associations with the festive season for personal reasons. And of course if you have staff of different faiths who don’t celebrate Christmas as a significant festival, it’s important to make sure they feel included. 

4 Show you trust your staff

You could micromanage your team in the lead up to the big day, constantly checking that festive distractions haven’t made them fall behind.

But wouldn’t it be better to show you trust staff? As long as they have a clear understanding of the work it’s vital to get done and how often to update you on progress, let them manage their own workloads and schedules.

At HR GO we speak to multiple job candidates every day about what sort of employer they’re looking for. Increasingly we’re noticing that their wish list features working somewhere that makes them feel respected and empowered. 

So in the run up to Christmas, letting staff get on with things may be all the motivation they need to stop productivity plummeting - while still keeping the festive joy high.

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