Keep employees productive during the holidays

holidaysIt’s December. We’re in the home stretch before the year ends. Many people are planning for the holiday season, which can be a full-time job for some – where are they going, what will they eat, what are they buying others as gifts, what are they getting as gifts…and the stress of the holidays gets to their head. And, yes, they are at work when this is happening.

Are your employees really productive during the holidays? Some companies have resorted to giving their employees the entire holiday season off and close their businesses. If only we were all so lucky to be able to do that…or to be the employees who work there! The reality is that for most of us, the work must go on.

I can assure you there’s really no one-size-fits-all solution. There’s also no magic wand we can wave. However, there are some strategies that we can try as leaders that might help ease the pain of the holidays, personally for the well-being of your employees and professionally for the well-being of your organizations.

  1. Schedule time for celebrating. Actually put it on the calendar. This won’t work for everyone everywhere. However, it’s possible that if you schedule time for celebrating, your employees will have something to look forward to instead of spending all of their “work time” celebrating (gift exchanges, extra extra extra treats, story telling, recipe sharing,etc.).
  2. Prepare ahead of time and set realistic goals. There are roughly 10 months of the year that you could use to prepare for the holidays. Yet, many people and many organizations don’t take advantage of this. Just as many of us wait until the last minute to do our gift shopping even though we know it will be more stressful with the long lines and chaotic environment, our organizations often wait until the last-minute to bring on new projects or “get things done” even though they often know, ahead of time, what’s left to do in the year based on their strategic plan. Set realistic milestones throughout the year and hold employees accountable for meeting deadlines so all the work is not left for the end of the year. Scrambling just to get the job done can create more problems than stress; it could mean more mistakes and errors or a lack of creativity and effort. Be even more attentional about this once it gets closer to the holiday season. Set realistic goals and hold productivity meetings. There’s nothing worse than an unrealistic goal this time of year. As the holiday season approaches, sit down with your team and set goals that everyone believes can be done by the end of the year. Call regular meetings with the expectation that everyone reports on their progress, provides solutions and ideas to issues and offers support to each other.
  3. Give the gift of exercise and give it early. Don’t wait until the holiday stress hits. Give your staff an early gift of exercise – perhaps a free 3 month wellness center membership starting October 1. Exercise has been proven to help us re-energize and refocus. It has also been proven to relieve stress. Then when the holidays hit, celebrate their work achievements as well as their wellness success with a healthy food party.
  4. Lead by example. If you moan and groan about the holidays and how you have no energy, your employees will follow suit. Remember, you can tell them to do as you say but in reality they will do as you do (not as you say). Do the work, smile often, keep your meetings engaging, and exemplify everything else that you want your staff to do. Be helpful to your staff, always but particularly at this time of the year. Don’t push all the work off on them and then go online shopping in your office. Hands-on leaders get more out of their teams.
  5. Recognize and reward extraordinary results. As people make great progress, be sure to recognize them. There are so many ways to do this that are free or low-cost. For many, acknowledgement is rewarding enough.

Obviously, there are many more great strategies to keep your team productive during the holidays. If you have a tried and true suggestion, please share it in the comments section or tweet it to me @lotus_yon. I would love to hear from you!

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