Friday, 10 December 2010

December Holidays - National Post

It’s December and almost everyone is thinking about the holidays. With all of the chatting about family holiday plans, which greeting cards to send to clients, what basket has come from suppliers and the work holiday party, it’s hard to think that any work is getting done. There are definitely ways to keep your employees focussed during the holiday season. 
December is not the time to come down hard on your staff for being distracted. While you don’t want to have an entirely unproductive month, there are ways to harness some productivity while promoting holiday joy. A great way of doing this is to set specific objectives and reward their achievement. In a small business, you have the luxury of being creative. So why not give a special reward such as a $250 gift card to the employee that meets a certain work goal. Another way to motivate the team is to create some goals and if your employees reach them, you can close the office a little early one weekday so they can do some holiday shopping without battling the weekend crowds. 
The holiday season can be distracting for some in a very emotional and/or negative way.  Thus, there are some people who will not want to be included in any holiday related discussions, never mind the celebrations. As a small business operator, it is your responsibility to be sensitive to those who may not celebrate for religious reasons or who find the time of year difficult due to personal issues such as illness or loss of a loved one over the past year. You don’t need to specifically approach these people, but you also don’t want to ask them to be the ones to organize the gift exchange or put up the office decorations. If you are in a situation where you feel the need to discuss their mood, particularly if it’s affecting the quality of their work, you can refer them to use their  Employee Assistance Plan and if they don’t have one, you can refer them to their family doctor who often has many resources for coping with stress and depression. 
While this article is about keeping the team focussed at holiday time, sometimes the best way to do this is to have a scheduled holiday event. This makes it clear that the company is recognizing the holiday season, but for a specific amount of time and that at other times, the expectation is that the holiday chatter is secondary to getting the job done. 
It’s important to decide ahead of time whether you are going to close between Christmas and New Years. This gives employees a chance to plan their vacations ahead of time. As well you need to decide beforehand whether these will be part of the vacation days the employees receive or will it be extra days on top of those predetermined vacation days. The more advanced time you give them to plan their holiday time off by letting them know what the company holiday schedule is, the less likely this will consume their time and thoughts during December. 
Overall, the goal should be to incorporate the spirit of the holidays into your small organization without taking all eyes off of the business of doing business. 

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