As public holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving race towards us, more and more managers find themselves struggling to motivate their employees. In fact, over two thirds of workers report they are less productive throughout December. As deadlines loom and productivity slows to a crawl, the run-up can be extremely stressful. Managers are running a constant tightrope between keeping staff motivated by being flexible and making sure that work gets done.
In addition, employees have much higher expectations of their employers at Christmas that any other time of year. When it comes to annual leave and holidays, staff can become very irritable if they perceive that they are not afforded enough time to indulge in festivities. Particularly when there's a plethora of social and family events to take care of (especially for those with children!).
In order to get the most out of employees in this environment employers need to be flexible. Setting up your workplace to allow flexible working hours, outsourcing company events and non-financial incentives can pay dividends in terms of productivity and staff morale. Managers reluctant to take a flexible approach can increase staff dissatisfaction and cause disputes that kill any chance of productivity.
1. Manage and Distribute Holiday Time
When it comes to the Christmas holidays many employees are much more concerned about competing for days off then staying productive. Year on year, managers have to pick who gets a day off, and who works. All too often, employees that don't get the days off that they wanted end up feeling demotivated and undervalued.
Without adequate holiday management, managers run the risk of alienating employees and increasing staff turnover. One of the best ways to avoid this problem is to have a well-defined holiday policy that's communicated to your employees ahead of time. This way you can reassure employees that any decisions you make are fair. This will help to limit frustration once holiday time is distributed.
When managing holiday time, your number one goal is to make sure that everyone has at least one day off. No matter how long it takes, divide up the schedules and accommodate holiday time to every staff member you can. It's much better to spend hours drawing up a schedule then to wreak havoc on workplace morale! One great way to manage holidays is to grant anyone who wasn't granted leave the year before to have first refusal.
2. Outsourcing Your Team
C-level managers are tied up through the whole year, and the hassle emerges when the holidays come. That's why most consider outsourcing their team to countries with no pre-holiday hassle. Many departments, like software development teams can complete IT projects remotely. With an outsourced team you'll avoid a lot of scheduling conflicts and hassle. For example, Ukrainians don't celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas on the 25th of December so outsourcing a team would be a great way to ensure productivity during these peak times.
The traditional office workplace can often get in the way of motivation and productivity. So long as your staff are aware of what needs to be done and set contracted hours, there will be plenty of time to get work done. Outsourcing your team will not only increase your team's motivation, but your flexibility as well.
3. Consider Flexible Working
If you want to go the extra mile to accommodate your employees during the holidays, consider flexible working arrangements. Flexible working can mean anything from telecommunicating days to flexi-time where workers pick and choose when to reach their weekly hour limit. Letting your employees design their own schedule can help them to manage their personal obligations and work much more effectively.
Simply setting up a system where an employee can start work earlier to leave early and do some shopping can help to increase morale. If you want to go a step further you could also cut the working day short. It can be much easier to maintain productivity during a shorter working day (particularly when employees are distracted by personal obligations).
Flexible working arrangements can help your employees to mix work, family and leisure activities altogether. In particular, IT departments and software development teams lend themselves well to flexible working times. Creating a working environment where employees are not only encouraged to live their own lives, but supported, can increase staff satisfaction and decrease staff turnover.
4. Company Events
One of the best ways to keep staff engagement high is to throw a Christmas party or company event. Annual events can help to recognize all the hard work employees have put in over the year, and provide an opportunity to unwind and enjoy themselves. Something as simple as a party or lunch can act as an opportunity to bond and develop professional relationships.
One method to ensure employee investment is to incorporate your team into the planning of the event. This way, staff will be able to decide what event they want to host, and what they want to do. Depending on your work culture, a staff drinks may be more appealing than a meal or vice versa. Setting aside some social time apart from the day-to-day grind can be extremely refreshing.
By planning a seasonal event for your staff you're offering ample opportunity for them to unwind and take a break. Even if the event is small, time away from the office will help them to refocus and increase their productivity. By situating your department as one that tolerates and encourages leisure time you'll promote a much healthier work culture. The more staff bond with their colleagues the better their collaborative capacity at work will be.
5. Use Non-Financial Incentives
Whilst financial incentives are certainly useful for boosting employee morale, many businesses find themselves too cash strapped to indulge in annual bonuses. However, that's no excuse not to add some non-financial incentives to your workplace. Most staff respond to incentives by increasing their productivity.
Implementing non-financial incentives could include something as simple as a bottle of champagne for meeting targets or performing well. Even an everyday treat like a box of chocolates could lighten the mood and help employees to stay loose and productive. Just a small gesture of appreciation can go a long way towards making employees try that little bit harder.
Satisfaction Results in Productivity
The holidays are as much a time for managers to show their appreciation of staff as they are for employees to unwind. When employees are stressed out during the holidays, providing days off, company events and incentives can be a great way to reignite productivity. Something as simple as a team night out can help to rejuvenate your team.
These are the things that let employees know you value their contribution and you support their attempts to maintain a work life balance. It's important to remember that the future of your department and your business will be down to how well your team is supported.
Maintaining staff morale in December is the key to productivity. So many companies make the mistake of taking their staff for granted and throwing them whatever holidays are left. If you want to ensure the longevity of your team you need to do everything you can to ensure that your employees keep their spirits high.