Keeping Employees Engaged and Productive During the Holidays

Holiday Distractions

Global data company, Peakon, has been tracking what they call the Great “Christmas Click-Off” for the past three years. This is a report that tracks employee productivity over the holiday season. Based on the responses of more than 15,000 employees across the US, UK, Nordics and Germany, 2018 saw reduced productivity for the entire month of December. In the U.S., nearly a third of employees are winding down by mid-December, and by the last Friday before Christmas, you can expect a whopping 70% of employees to be completely “clicked off.” When it comes to the economic impact of low productivity during the holidays, Peakon’s Director of Employee Experience, Michael Dean, remarks, “Rough estimates suggest that it could cost the US economy several tens of billions of dollars, in addition to the multiple billions in the UK.”

The Employer’s Role

Dean states that, “the worst thing you can do is bury your head in the sand.” Peakon’s report explains that this “click-off” is a natural response to holiday distractions and seasonal pressures. While it might be frustrating, from an employer standpoint, it pays off to understand exactly what is going on with employees during this time of year.

One culprit of low productivity is the fact that employees have been doing the same kind of work all year long, so the excitement of the holidays is a very welcomed distraction. Dean suggests allocating the time and resources for special year-end projects that employees may have been wanting to do all year, but just couldn’t fit it into their schedules.  Employers can also plan ahead and increase workloads periodically throughout the year to allow for more free time in December. This time can then be used to reflect as a team on the successes and challenges of the year and brainstorm ideas for the upcoming year. Both of these suggestions will help end the year on a high note.

Tips to Improve Productivity and Engagement

Clarissa Windham-Bradstock, CEO/Chief People Officer of Any Lab Test Now, shared these tips with Forbes for improving productivity and engagement during the holidays:

  • 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 work from home opportunities. Employees appreciate this at any time of the year, but especially during the holidays. This is very helpful for those who have kids on winter 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 wellbeing. Schedule in office workout classes, meditation sessions, or even hire a professional to offer in-office chair massages. You’ll be surprised how much productivity and engagement improve when employees realize how much you care about their health.
  • 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 wellbeing 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!
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