How to Keep Your Employees Happy, Productive and Engaged During the Holidays

As we approach Thanksgiving in the U.S., that means that Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s and the other winter holidays aren’t far behind.

For most people, this means a time of celebration and gathering with friends and family, but for employers it can mean a time when employees lose focus, take substantial amounts of time off work and are generally disengaged from their jobs.

Engaged employees during holidays

It’s vital that managers and leaders keep their workforce engaged, even during challenging times, and, in particular, the holidays because these can simultaneously be some of the busiest times of year for companies.

Related article: Get Into the Holiday Swing with These 7 Tips for Training Your Seasonal Hires

Here are some guidelines to keep your workforce strong and productive between November and the beginning of January:

Appreciate Your Employees

The holidays are a time of giving thanks, and that should certainly extend to your employees. Employees want to feel appreciated year-round but particularly during the holiday season.

When you show recognition and appreciation for your employees during the holidays, they’ll tend to be better year-round.

Even if you’re not able to offer a substantial holiday monetary bonus, consider these ideas instead:

  • Create a holiday recognition program where the top performers from throughout the year are given company-wide acknowledgment during the annual employee holiday party.
  • Bring in lunch or meals during the holiday season, particularly if employees are expected to work long hours during these times. You could also have several employee potlucks to show employees you appreciate all that work and promote that sense of fellowship and camaraderie that people enjoy so much during the holiday season.
  • Be flexible with scheduling and let employees work with one another to make changes if necessary. Some employees may have events or gatherings on particular days or nights, and rather than being a stickler for scheduling give your workforce some autonomy whenever possible.  
  • Something as simple as a handwritten thank you note can go a long way in the eyes of employees, and is a budget-friendly way to make it known that you not only acknowledge but also appreciate all that they do.

Encourage Productivity

It’s not uncommon for employees to lose motivation and demonstrate reduced productivity in the months of November, December and early January. They’re focused on the holidays, shopping for gifts, family gatherings and taking trips.

If you want to keep them on track, consider initiating a friendly competition during the season. Don’t make it too cutthroat or it will turn employees off. Instead, make it something fun that will keep them on their toes and working to achieve goals, even during a time when it be easy to slack off. Productivity-encouraging competitions don’t even necessary have to be work-related. Having something like a fitness competition can be a good way to encourage a healthy workplace and keep employees on track with their professional goals.

You should also prioritize and be clear about goals and expectations for your employees during this time of year. Focus on the things that are necessities and eliminate unnecessary goals that can be put on the back burner until the start of the new year. Employees need to know what’s expected of them to stay on track during the season when it’s so easy to become distracted. If you’re clear and concise with expectations, it will help employees remain motivated.

Another way to improve productivity is to avoid meetings during the holidays, or at least during December. You want to be focusing on the must-dos, and to prevent employee burnout and have priorities being met during the holidays, avoid unnecessary meetings and wait until everyone can start fresh in January.

Manage Stress

The holidays are frequently seen as a joyful time, but they can also be a time that creates a lot of stress for employees. From the demands of visiting family to seasonal depression, while you may not be able to help employees avoid every issue, you can help them manage their stress.

  1. An excellent way to keep everyone engaged and on a positive track is by organizing a company-wide volunteer day during the holiday season. It lets everyone relax a bit, give back and focus on positive things.
  2. Volunteer days also tend to make employees feel more connected to one another and more loyal to the company if everyone volunteers in the same place at the same time. It can lower stress levels and even help employees who are battling a bit of seasonal depression.
  3. Don’t introduce new projects during the holidays if you can avoid it. The holidays feel to many people a time of year when things are coming to a close, not necessarily beginning. Try to use December as a month when everyone wraps up loose ends and completes projects so that the New Year can begin as a fresh start for everyone.
  4. If you want to help employees tackle holiday stress and have a little fun at the same time, take a page out of the talent management strategy of companies like Google and Apple. Have yoga, meditation or fitness instructors come onsite for a workshop, even if it’s only an hour. You may not be able to afford to do this year-round, but it’s a good and relatively affordable one-time option to boost the morale of employees during the tricky holiday season.
  5. If you work in an industry with a hectic holiday season, such as hospitality or retail, keep employees from feeling overburdened by defining a more relaxing January. If you can’t give employees flexible scheduling or perks during December, lay out a plan of appreciation that will be implemented in January, or even a rewards program that will happen in January, for December’s performance. Giving your employees something to look forward to in January will keep them from becoming overworked and burned out.
  6. The holidays are a difficult time for talent management as employee energy lags, and it becomes difficult to focus on work. Many businesses, particularly small enterprises, may not have the money to give employees generous yearly bonuses but are getting creative when it comes to making the most of the season.

How do you inspire your employees to remain productive and happy during November and December?

November 25, 2015   Updated :November 16, 2016   bonus, engaged employees, holidays   

One response to “How to Keep Your Employees Happy, Productive and Engaged During the Holidays”

  1. Prioritizing tasks during this time of year is important. People are taking time off which means that it’s best to put certain items that can wait off until January. Employees will greatly appreciate it.

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