How to Keep Productivity High during the Holidays

Does your office have frantic, stressed-out workers scrambling to meet end-of-the-year workplace demands during the holidays? Since most folks already have plenty of the usual holiday stresses that can meander into the workday, keeping the holiday-office frazzle from reducing productivity takes a little bit of planning. Smart managers can transform a cranky holiday workplace into an efficient, yet festive office with these tips:

1. Make it Fun

The holidays are no time to be a stuffy Scrooge in the office. Plan some holiday fun for each workday. Optional daily fun like a cookie swap, ugly holiday sweater contest, or white elephant gift exchange will have workers looking forward to their workday. You can even splurge on a catered breakfast all-hands-on “meeting” in the office to start the day with holiday cheer (it’s often tax deductible, after all).

2. Set the Right Priorities

Forbes recommends deciding on which projects need completion before the end of the year and what can wait until after the holidays. Keep it to a short list and identify the top three items in order of importance. That way, workers can make quick decisions when alleged “emergency” diversions come up about whether to divert their time to the issue or stay on task.

3. Factor in Flexibility

stressed out holiday elf

If your team looks as stressed as this elf, it’s time for an intervention. Flickr/Dylan Tweney

With abundant holiday season activities like kids’ school performances and early-morning holiday traffic, holding to a rigid work schedule may actually be counterproductive. Accommodate planned and unplanned employee outages as much as possible. Whether it’s a flexible schedule or a flexible work location, more gets done when folks can make up missed work time. If it’s at all possible, allow working from home.

4. Cancel the Meetings

As advised in another excellent Forbes productivity gem, just say no to meetings during the holiday rush. Unless it’s required—and if it’s not needed to work on one of the top three priorities—cancel it. If the meeting’s purpose was to collect and convey information, do it by email instead. Employees will appreciate the extra time to get more work done.

5. Provide Extra Perks

Don’t be the Grinch during the holidays. Offering incentives for putting in extra holiday time or completing prioritized goals can make for many holly jolly employees. Instead of workers who call in sick at the slightest morning difficulty, they’ll be waking up early with enthusiasm to get to work. Incentive rewards might include a one-time holiday pay boost, or an extra vacation day after the holidays.

6. Limit Email

Ask employees to limit emails to only those necessary to accomplish key priorities, along with important employee notifications like benefit enrolment reminders. Check and reply to email only once or twice a day instead of constantly looking every time a new email notification pops up. Keep email programs closed until it’s time to check them, and then close them when you’re done.

7. Turn Off Phones

Like email, ask workers to keep their phone calls, texting and instant messages to and from coworkers to a minimum. Even better, turn phones off when in the office, and only check for messages once or twice during the workday if possible. Yes, it can be tough to break the habit—but just remind folks that’s it’s only temporary.

A pleasant and friendly holiday workplace with clear priorities keeps employees motivated and eager to get to work. Minimizing interruptions and distractions helps workers focus on goals throughout the workday. Offering incentives makes accomplishing those end-of-year projects rewarding for both management and staff. These time and stress-management tips will help keep holiday productivity up and running effectively and festively.

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