How to increase productivity at Christmas time

2 December 2019

The lead up to Christmas is always a special time. The Christmas tree is up, the presents are being bought and the mince pies are being eaten. But Christmas can come with its own stresses and challenges for you and your team. With so many demands on your team’s personal time, it’s inevitable that productivity at work will take a bit of a hit. So how do you keep your employees motivated and working productively during the holiday season?

According to one survey, 30-40% of staff reported a fall in productivity from mid December1. This means that your employees may not be performing as productively as they normally would for half of the month of December. Another survey found that 42% of employees confess to Christmas shopping online while at work, while 35% say they’re planning Christmas Day at work and 30% are planning their Christmas break2. With all of these festive distractions occupying your team’s minds, it’s hardly surprising that they may not be working as effectively as they would do normally.

So how can SME owners improve the productivity of their team at Christmas time?

Time management

December can be a busy month for some industries, and employees often have more work to do in fewer working days. Many people take additional annual leave during December too, meaning that the team members that are working often have more work to do in order to cover the workloads of their colleagues. As a small business owner, it’s important to be able to recognise when some members of your team might be feeling the strain of an increased workload. If someone is staying in the office late every evening when everybody else is out enjoying the festivities, then this may be an indication that they have too much work to do and are feeling the strain. If possible, you could work with them to identify tasks on their to-do list that can wait until the New Year to free up some of their time. 

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Be flexible

There are lots of pressures on people’s time over the festive period. Whether it’s attending the school play or doing the Christmas shopping, it can be difficult to fit everything in on top of the pressures of work. Offering your team flexible working hours over the Christmas period can be a great way to give your people the ability to manage their personal and work lives during this time. Knowing that they have the flexibility to be able to carry out all of their Christmas admin might also mean that they are more productive when they are at work as it helps to minimise the distractions of these tasks during work time.

Public transport can also be slightly trickier to navigate over the festive period due to engineering works and bad weather. If members of your team are affected on their commute, you could provide them with the opportunity to work from home rather than traipsing into the office and being faced with train delays.

Get into the spirit

Whether it’s organising a desk decorating competition or a novelty Christmas jumper day, there are lots of ways that you can bring the Christmas spirit into the office. You could also arrange for some festive food treats to be delivered to help keep everyone’s spirits up. While it may cause some temporary distractions in the office, it could help to keep everyone in a positive mood for the remainder of the working day. 

Reflect on the year

Christmas can be a great time to reflect on the past year, including successes and learnings. You could book in some time to sit down with each member of your team and talk through what they think went well over the past year and what could have perhaps gone better. Setting goals for next year could also be a good way to focus your team’s motivation for the year ahead. You could also use this time to hand-deliver a small Christmas gift to each of your employees, if you’re budget allows for it. While it doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, the gesture may help to boost employee morale while working over the Christmas period.

Communicate with your team

It can be tempting to organise the office festivities based on what you think your employees want and how you think they’d like to celebrate, rather than what they actually want. According to a survey by Perkbox, 60% of employers don’t ask their teams how they’d like to celebrate Christmas3. This could mean that you end up spending a lot of money on something that your employees may not actually have opted for, if they had the choice. Rather than guessing, ask your team how they would like to celebrate Christmas in the office. Some teams may love the Christmas party, whereas others may prefer to have a Friday afternoon off so they can get their Christmas shopping done instead. While you may not be able to action all of the ideas, it can help you to get a clearer picture as to what your employees would like.

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