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Keep Productivity High During the Holidays

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: The holidays seem to be more stressful every year. I know my employees are working hard to meet their year-end goals while also trying to handle all the personal demands on their time. What can we do to get through this time of year with as little stress as possible and still meet our goals?

A: You're right—this is a highly stressful time for most people and many organizations. This is especially true for organizations whose fiscal year ends December 31. So, what can you do when your employees' minds are focused on all they need to do to make the holidays special for their families but you have important work to finish?

You've taken the first step—acknowledging that employees have conflicting priorities. Start by getting everyone together and letting them know that while you understand they have lots going on, they also have a commitment to your organization. Let them know that you'll do all you can to help them prioritize their work and that you'll support them in completing it. Of course, this means you need to find ways to deal with your own stress so that you can be present for your staff.

Here are some simple ideas other organizations have used successfully to reduce stress while keeping productivity high:

  1. Encourage your employees to take breaks during the day. Even a minute of deep breathing can reduce stress and anxiety.

  2. Let your employees know that you'll do all you can to help them prioritize their work and that you'll support them in completing it all.

  3. Remind people about the importance of getting a good night's sleep and taking time to exercise. If you have an unused office, consider setting it up as a place for people to go for meditation or just a quiet moment to recharge.

  4. Have healthy snacks in the office to encourage people to eat better. Consider bringing in lunch one day, but rather than ordering pizza, order a variety of salads and fruits.

  5. Be as flexible as possible about time off during this time of year. One organization I know gives everyone a day off between Thanksgiving and the end of the year to shop or run other errands. Obviously, they stagger the days off so that the work can still get done.

  6. If you can't give days off, be a little more forgiving if people use work time to order gifts online.

  7. Most organizations do some sort of holiday event, but consider holding yours in January when things are a little slower. People's social schedules are more open in January, and they will appreciate having something to look forward to.

  8. Recognize and reward your employees' accomplishments during this period. You should be doing this all year, but it's even more important now to keep them motivated.

Hopefully, these ideas will help your team get through the holidays without too much stress and also get their work done. Happy holidays!

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you'd like her to answer in "Ask the Expert"? Send it to [email protected]

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