When employees return to work after Thanksgiving, there will only be a few weeks left before Christmas and New Year’s. This short amount of time is often described as a whirlwind. Children are on holiday break and family finances, holiday gatherings and holiday related errands start to overwhelm our minds. It is an exciting time of year, but many employees also have end of the year deadlines, projects and additional work responsible they are managing at the same time. Overall, the last month of the year makes work-life balance very difficult. So, it is not surprising that a research study from the Institute for Corporate Productivity found that 62% of companies experience a decrease in motivation and productivity levels during the holiday season.
While it might be frustrating from an employer standpoint, keep in mind that this is a very natural response to the chaos and excitement of the season. A decrease is motivation and proactivity is also not solely on remote workers. This was a trend far before the COVID-19 pandemic and is experienced by in-office and remote workers alike. The key is to be compassionate, understand holiday distractions and make improvements where you can. In addition to what we mentioned above, here are additional reasons for low motivation and productivity during the holiday season:
- Added obligations and stress
- Burnout or exhaustion
- Seasonal mood changes
- Feelings of loss, loneliness or depression
- Lack of flexibility or sense of lack of time
Tips to Improve Motivation and Productivity
Listed below are our favorite tips for keeping employees motivated and productive this time of year:
- Plan ahead and increase workloads periodically throughout the year to allow for more free time in December. You can also try rearranging the schedule to save the more fun and exciting projects for the end of the year to eliminate some mundaneness from December work days.
- Communicate the goals that need to be met during Q4 early! In addition, clearly communicate incentives to go along with the achieved goals, such as extra vacation days, gift cards, etc. This way, employees have goals to focus on and are encouraged to keep their eye on the prize.
- Consider offering flexible hours and/or more work from home opportunities. Employees appreciate this at any time of the year, but especially during the holidays. This is especially helpful for those who have kids on holiday break, family coming to visit, or just the usual holiday task list to complete.
- Employees experience greater levels of physical and emotional stress during the holidays, so one of the most important things you can do is promote their health and well-being. Schedule in office workout classes, meditation sessions, or even hire a professional to offer in-office chair massages. You’ll be surprised how much motivation and productivity improve when employees realize how much you care about their health.
- Get in the holiday spirit! Consider having a holiday party, family friendly potluck or arrange fun and engaging holiday themed work days or challenges throughout the month. A festive work environment is an excellent way to nurture work relationships, reward employees and show them that you care. In addition, it gives employees a much needed mental break at work without losing too much focus.
- Show appreciation for company-wide successes for the year and acknowledge the role that employees played. Having a sense of purpose, knowing one’s hard work makes a difference and feeling appreciated are all major contributing favorites to keeping motivation and productivity levels high. Plus, they say when you focus on the good, the good continues!
- Give back to the community and set aside time for organization wide volunteer work. Whether it is volunteering at a charity as a team, hosting a toy drive, or adopting families for gift giving, helping others is proven to cultivate gratitude and well-being for all of those involved. It is also a great way to promote team-building and help put the holidays into perspective for both you and your employees!