Holiday seasons are notorious for having a negative effect on productivity. Everyone suffers including employees, customers and management. It’s a distracting time for everyone. The problem is that everyone needs to get things done during every holiday season. Project goals need to be met. Products need to be shipped. Customer problems must be resolved. Manufacturing can’t press pause at any time.
Most offices need to be staffed almost constantly. This is tough on both managers and workers. Managers have to make difficult decisions about who can time off and who has to work. One solution to reduce ill will is to offer flexible work hours whenever possible. This can also help boost productivity. Holidays are demanding on employees. You usually can’t give everyone vacation days at the same time, but flexibility will go a long way towards making people’s lives easier. You may be able to let people work a four-day week or work different schedules so they get home earlier. Explore the alternatives so that you can offer something. You’ll still need employees to work 24 hours a week, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be from 8 to 5 or other standard hours.
Avoid assigning overtime whenever you can. Since people have so many family obligations, they’re under more pressure outside of work than usual. Try to plan ahead as much as possible so that extra hours can be avoided whenever possible. If it’s unavoidable, ask for volunteers. Some people may need help with their holiday bills and will appreciate the extra play. Other than that, try to distribute the overtime as fairly as you can.
Acknowledge holidays, when possible. Put up some decorations and create a festive atmosphere. If you ignore the season entirely, it will make your office seem depressing. You can add many celebratory decorations without emphasizing any particular religion. That way, you won’t have to worry about offending anyone. You can plan a small celebration if the employees want one but schedule it for lunchtime. Most people would prefer the time after work free from work obligations.
It’s part of your job to minimize distractions so that people can get their work done. While some interruptions are inevitable, check to see which disturbances you can eliminate or reduce to help your team members be productive. One of the first things you can address is meetings. Avoid these as much as you can. They have the potential to take up a lot of time and aren’t always productive, especially if employees are already preoccupied with other concerns. If meetings involve planning or issues that take place in the future, try to postpone them until after the holidays. This is especially important if key decision makers won’t be able to attend the meetings.
Eliminate any other unnecessary activities or projects whenever possible. Postpone projects to calmer times of the year if it’s workable, although you don’t want to overload other times of the year. Avoid sending unneeded emails as well as they take up time. You should apply the same rules to yourself as you do to your employees. You can easily get overwhelmed by all the things you have to do during the holiday season. It’s important to consider your own stress as well as everyone else’s.
Set goals and expectations and communicate them clearly. Make sure every member of the team knows what he or she is expected to accomplish each day. Check in to see how people are doing. Are they making progress? If not, why? If they’re too distracted, ask how you can help them focus and provide what resources you can. They may be having problems because they’re trying to work with others who are having trouble staying focused. This might require your intervention. You may need to talk to another department manager to get the support your employees need.
You may need to remind people to stay on tasks than you usually do. This is common during this time of year and doesn’t necessary reflect anyone’s typical performance. Most people quickly regroup when things get back to normal. You’ll just need to occasional keep an eye on everyone to make sure they’re not constantly distracted.