The holidays are everyone’s favorite part of the year, but as a business owner, it can be stressful. There are business obligations at the end of the year, such as financial reporting for the fourth quarter, holiday festivities, and the need to maintain productivity during each workday. All of us are usually ready for the holiday break and dreaming about time off with family and friends.
Today’s employment landscape has significantly changed in the last ten years. More people work remotely than ever before, and there are more millennials than other generations. So, exactly how do you keep your employees productive during the holiday season while still embracing it? We’ve found some great ways to increase productivity and ring in the holidays with a cheerful and joyous business environment.
1. Embrace the Holiday Season
While this time of year may be stressful for business owners, it’s crucial not to resist the holidays. Christmas and Thanksgiving only come once a year. Perhaps now is the time to test some different productivity strategies and tools.
While you don’t want your employees to think of you as a pushover, you can still be flexible during the holidays. Showing your staff how well you understand their need for a break, and a little fun time goes a long way towards building loyalty and good relationships all year long. Bring the holidays into the office, but don’t overdo it.
2. Offer Flexible Hours or Roaming Work from Home Days
Even if your business is location dependent, some flexibility in scheduling during the holidays goes a long way. Consider offering employees to work from home when it’s feasible. West Monroe Partners surveyed 2,000 U.S. workers to get their take on productivity during the holidays. Ninety-one percent said that they were just as productive working remotely as they were at the office.
We all know that people having family coming in from out of town, and there are extra cleaning duties and other errands to take care of. Allowing your staff to work from home relieves some of that stress because it frees up some time to run a few errands. They can use small breaks to get the house ready for family, and in turn, this increases their productivity when they’re in the office.
If it’s not possible to offer work from home days, flexible scheduling is another great way to increase productivity. Thirty-three percent of workers in the above survey said that flexible scheduling would keep them more productive during the holidays. West Monroe’s survey also found that 38 percent of people wanted fewer distractions in the office, so they didn’t have to work overtime to get all of their tasks done.
Other employees said that coming in late or leaving early gave them more holiday time with their family. Therefore, flexible scheduling is a logical solution to keep employees productive while uplifting morale overall.
Now, employees just can’t come and go willy nilly. Communication and planning with you and other employees are critical for this solution to work, or you’ll end up with days where only one person is working. That’s bad for business. Also, use communication tools such as Skype or Slack to check in regularly with staff working remotely. Keeping lines of communication open is essential.
3. Plan Vacation Time in Advance
Most schedules allow you to plan months if not years ahead. Many parents plan vacation and events around their children’s’ school calendar. Other employees have schedules that are more flexible, allowing them to pick up and go when they want to. So, the person that goes by their kid’s schedule plans further in advance leaving other time slots available for the sporadic travelers to take time off on a whim.
Each business likely has a mixture of employees who all prefer different ways of planning their vacation time. Some may not mind working holidays because they don’t have kids but make sure they’re compensated for working the holidays by at least paying time and a half if your business is open during holiday hours. But don’t make all the singles or people without children work all of the holidays because they have family too. Keep it fair.
4. Provide Managers with Training so They Can Handle the Holiday Season Efficiently
The holiday season introduces challenges that managers don’t face during the rest of the year. Scheduling is one of the primary challenges, and they can’t let everyone off at the same time. On the other hand, employees should be able to get paid time off during the time frame that they want it.
Training equips managers with the knowledge and confidence to manage teams during the stressful holiday season. It also reduces unnecessary stress for them, letting them work on their holiday plans.
5. Close for Additional Holidays
Happy employees work for businesses that close for a few extra holidays than just the traditional federal holidays. While you may think it’s too expensive to lose additional workdays, investing in the happiness of your staff increases productivity. Employees are probably more productive on the days that they’re working than if they worked the extra days.
Many companies have tried this strategy and noticed that it significantly benefits their business as far as retention and productivity in the first quarter of the new year. If you absolutely can’t close the office for any more days, offering flexible scheduling is the next best option.
6. Help a Nonprofit as a Team
There are plenty of nonprofit companies such as food banks, women’s shelters, animal shelters, and other community programs that need help this time of year. As a team or business sponsor, some needy families through the food bank or by putting up an angel tree and buying presents. Give everyone a chance to contribute or wrap gifts. Everyone loves giving to others, and it makes them feel thankful for what they have.
It’s also a great time to support an organization that aligns with your business’s mission and values. Have employees donate money to a worthy cause, and your business can match those funds to extend the giving as far as possible. Everyone enjoys working for a company that supports the local community.
7. Incentivize Goals
Create tangible goals throughout the year to keep employees motivated once the end of the year nears. Most people like to reach goals, and if you offer a bonus at the end of the year, it motivates them to end the year strong. Just make sure that the goals are realistic as well as tangible, and they should stay motivated as they get closer to the final goal and bonus.
Now You Know How to Improve Employee Productivity
These are just a few ways to improve employee productivity during the holidays. You should also work throughout the year to show your employees how important they are to the business. Provide lunch occasionally or throw a Christmas appreciation dinner at the end of the year and give your staff a present or gift card. Some companies give employees hams or turkeys while others provide gift cards. Whatever you think would make your unique employees happy.
Showing your appreciation helps you retain skilled employees, and you need qualified employees to run a successful business. Hopefully, something on this list works for your business or sparks an idea that you can use to improve employee productivity by the end of this year.