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Christmas is all around us and we simply cannot avoid the excitement and merriment that comes with it. Jingle bells ring, windows twinkle with colourful Christmas lights and the air is aromatic with the scent of mulled wine and mince pies. However, the season also comes with the rush of year-end deadlines, holiday planning and the need to implement a business strategy for the New Year – all this whilst offering fewer man hours to do the same, if not more work.

For this reason, we show you our top 7 steps to ensure that your staff remain productive, yet festive over the manic days leading up to Christmas.

Step 1 - Managing Holidays

Navigating through leave requests throughout the Christmas period is never a favourite pastime for managers, particularly because a significant amount of staff members will most likely end up requesting leave over the same period of time.

For this reason, it’s important to play fair and ensure that you allocate holidays in a way that not only keeps staff members happy, but also leaves you with enough hands to tackle the workload that is left behind.

An organisation's annual leave policy should give guidance on how to book time off. Whilst some managers may take a more flexible approach, certain organisations need to restrict leave over a particularly busy time of year. If this is the case, the terms and conditions of leave must be stated in the contract of employment, implied from custom or practice, or incorporated into individual contracts from a collective agreement. This can take many forms, but some of the most common are:

  • Shutting down for certain periods while workers have to use their annual leave entitlement
  • Nominating particular dates as days of closure when workers are expected to take annual leave
  • Determining the maximum amount of leave that can be taken on any one occasion and also the periods when leave may be taken
  • Determining the number of workers who can be off at any one time.

If your annual leave allocation runs from January to December, keep a close eye on the holidays being taken by your team and make sure that everyone uses their allocation throughout the year. This will save you the hassle of fitting in holidays before the end of December. 

Step 2 - Be flexible with Work Schedules

Real talk, the workload leading up to Christmas is often doubled, if not tripled, leaving managers tempted to overwork their employees. Although it may not seem like it on the cover, working hour flexibility over the festive period is not only possible, but vital for keeping your employees’ spirits up! Implement a strategy whereby an early arrival time or completion of daily deadlines permits employees to nip out for some urgent Christmas shopping before the rush of traffic. You could also allow employees with an excellent track record to work from home.

Step 3 - Incentivise your Team

Christmas is admittedly a time where expectations are high, but not all companies can afford to offer fat bonuses. That being said, there are still plenty of ways to inspire your employees without breaking the bank. Better still, such incentives can also push your team to deliver results at an optimal level. For example, you could reward the employee who exceeds their target with a Christmas shopping voucher, or give a bottle (or two) of bubbly to the team with the best overall performance.

Step 4 - Have fun with your Colleagues

At a time where people would much rather be merrily eating and drinking at parties, shopping for Christmas presents, decorating their houses or spending time with their loved ones, it’s important that you keep the Christmas spirit alive at the office in order to avoid any unnecessary stress, discouragement or even resentment. Whilst maintaining productivity, loosen the reigns a bit by allowing people to play Christmas jingles at the office, have one or two dress down days in the week and participate in the fun of a team secret Santa activity.

Step 5 - Organise a Christmas Office Party to better understand your team

Never underestimate the joy of the office party, and organise a fun and festive company social to make your staff feel valued and appreciated. Remember that a Christmas party is also an excellent opportunity for managers to gain insight into the dynamics of their team by seeing how staff members feel about each other, what irks them, or what inspires them.

By observing the laidback interactions and activities of your team, you will gain insight into attributes such as work ethic and attitude, what motivates and inspires someone, and equally what demotivates or annoys them. You will gain a deeper understanding of what’s working with your procedures and processes, or how you interact with others – as well as how they interact.

In addition to allowing your staff to let their hair down and partake in the merriment of Christmas, be sure to celebrate all the wonderful work they do throughout the year, as this will result in a heightened sense of camaraderie and increase staff loyalty and retention. But be mindful not to get too carried away to the point where staff members are dancing on tables in intoxicated abandon!

Step 6 - Everyone to partake in the Gift of Giving

Put everything into perspective by organising a charity initiative that employees can participate in. An excellent example of this is Search’s One Day initiative, whereby employees are provided with the opportunity to apply for one day's paid leave which can be spent volunteering at a registered charity of their choice. There is a certain joy that comes with giving, and the perk of getting a day off is certainly an extra boost towards motivating your staff.Why not take the opportunity to raise some money for charity by embracing National Christmas Jumper day on Friday 16th December? We will certainly be embracing that at Search!

What will you do to keep your staff festive yet productive this Christmas?

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