The festive period is a happy time for most, a much-needed opportunity to rest and reflect with friends and family. But for many, the festive period can be an incredibly stressful time. Does it come as any surprise that workplace absences rise towards the end of the year?
Why do many workers get stressed as the festive period approaches? Well, this time of year brings a lot of financial worries, and the bad weather doesn’t help. But there’s also the fact that many sectors effectively shut down completely over the festive period. This means that a lot of people work to tight deadlines at this time of year. They have to work extra hard to get everything done before it’s too late.
But there are ways to work around this. If you can maintain workplace productivity over the festive period, you can ensure that everything will keep running as it should. And if your workers don’t have to worry about tight deadlines and increased workloads, you can help to reduce stress in the workplace.
This blog is your essential guide to maintaining employee productivity over the festive period. We’ll show you which measures to introduce to help keep everything running smoothly, leaving you and your workers free to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.
1. Be Realistic, Reasonable, and Sensitive
Many people love this time of year. According to research by Peakon, 57% of UK workers enter “Christmas mode” from December 18.
Don’t be a Scrooge. If people are feeling festive, let them bring the mood for the office. If you don’t, it’ll be bad for staff morale, bad for employee engagement and, by extension, bad for productivity.
So let people decorate their desks. Let them wear Christmas jumpers and bring in mince pies and other treats. Organise a Secret Santa gift exchange, and don’t forget the staff party!
But on the other hand, not everyone celebrates Christmas. Some don’t for cultural or religious reasons. Some simply don’t like it. So however you mark the festive period in your office, make nothing mandatory. Don’t force anything on anyone. Let people opt out of any activity if they wish.
And if anyone dislikes Christmas for emotional or financial reasons, let them know that your door’s always open. If they want to talk about anything, you’re here to listen.
2. Offer Incentives
So if most UK workers are already feeling festive by mid-December, how can you keep them engaged in their work? How can you stop productivity from falling?
First, study output and demand from previous years and adjust your expectations accordingly. Set realistic targets, and share them with everyone. Explain why you’ve set the targets you’ve set, and you may inspire people to perform to the best of their abilities. People may feel more motivated if they know they’re working towards an achievable goal rather than an arbitrary target.
And once you’ve set your targets, offer incentives for any member of staff that helps you achieve them. This could be anything, from passes for early finishes or late starts, to free food and drink, to retail vouchers and discount coupons.
Head here to read our guide to the sort of incentives that employees value the most.
3. Be Flexible
According to some studies, nearly half of workers feel that flexible working arrangements can make a huge difference in stress levels in the workplace.
Ask yourself this: Do you absolutely need for everyone to be in the office at all times?
Some people travel for hundreds of miles to see family at this time of year. And sometimes, the sheer awfulness of the UK winter makes traveling to work downright miserable.
So why not let people work remotely? Let them work from home if they want to, and you may be able to alleviate much of the stress and misery that many feel at this time of year.
4. Set a Fair Employee Rota
Of course, not all businesses can afford to wind things down at this time of year. Indeed, for many industries, the festive period is the busiest time of year. Things don’t calm down come December. They go into overdrive.
If you work in the retail or the distribution industries, you may have to work at maximum capacity throughout the entire festive period. You may even have to take on seasonal staff, to help you meet the increased demand.
You need to hit those targets, and you need to meet your customers’ expectations. But at the same time, you need to ensure that none of your workers feel the strain. Burnt out employees are terrible for productivity, so you need to make sure there’s a fair workload across all of your departments. Therefore, it’s vitally important that you set an employee rota that works for everyone.
Head here to read our guide to setting a fair employee rota.
5. Invest in an Absence Management System
It’s nearly Christmas. So why not treat yourself, and your staff, to a system that’s going to make life significantly easier for everyone?
Our absence management software will help you maintain productivity over the festive period. It can help you manage everything, from flexible working patterns to fair and equitable employee rotas.
It’s a secure cloud-based system that any team member can access from any device. Everyone can see the same shared calendar, so every member of the team can see where everyone else is at any given time. This will make it much easy for you or your managers to plan rotas that are fair for everyone while still meeting your business needs.
You can also define your minimum staffing levels. You’ll get alerts when any absence, planned or unplanned, is going to make things difficult. So you can act to fix the issue long before it has the chance to become a problem.
Our system will be your secret weapon to helping you stay productive over the festive period. Take control of your employee rota and you can get an edge over your competitors without putting any undue pressure on your staff.
And because it’s Christmas, we’re offering you a no-risk, no-obligation opportunity to experience the benefits of the Edays system yourself.
Katrina is edays' own People Director with significant UK and international experience in delivering people strategy and value-adding HR solutions across a range of organisations and sectors (including Arriva, Boots, Rolls Royce, the utility and charity sectors). Katrina has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources and is CIPD qualified.