There’s something special about the holidays. That magical time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. There’s a festive spirit that seems to take over even the Grinchiest of us and that spirit is contagious. It leads to giddy school children that can’t seem to sit still in class and excitable employees that seem to have a similar problem at work.
Yes, it is the most wonderful time of the year. That is unless you’re a boss and you have deadlines to meet. Then, it’s like pulling teeth to keep your employees on track.
While this article can’t guarantee that your office will keep working at full steam through January 1, it may prevent things from going off the rails entirely. I’ve pulled together a list of ideas that will hopefully get you to and into 2021 without a complete work shutdown.
This Isn’t Business as Usual
The first step is recognizing that there is going to be a problem. Do not assume that your employees are going to be able to avoid all the distractions that the holidays have to offer. Expect that there will be some distractions and plan for them.
If you lower your expectations and are a more understanding and prepared boss, then things will go a lot more smoothly for you and your business.
One of the ways to make sure that your employees stay on track is to set goals. This clearly outlines what you expect of your employees and it gives them an idea of what the finish line is. They’ll work hard to get to that finish line as fast as possible, especially if they know that there’s a break at the end.
The Holiday Party
A holiday party is a great way to show your employees you appreciate them and give them an outlet for some of their holiday spirit. It’s a chance for everyone to get together and enjoy some time that has nothing to do with work. It’s a chance to have fun.
Just don’t make it mandatory. A mandatory company party is something that some employees start to dread and it can alienate them. If you have a good work culture, then peer pressure will be enough to motivate all employees to show up to a holiday party.
If it’s going to be virtual this year, then send each employee a little gift basket with drinks, food, or something similar. That will also motivate them to attend your company holiday party.
The Holiday Bonus
If you have the means, a holiday bonus is always a great way to keep your employees motivated. It lets them know that you appreciate their work and that you value their effort. Plus, it makes it more likely that employees will focus on those end of the year goals that need to get done.
A holiday bonus is like drinking a can of Red Bull when you start dragging at 3 p.m. It kicks things into high gear.
Say “Thank You”
In times like these, you may not be able to afford the holiday bonus. That doesn’t mean you ignore your employees. Find a way to say thank you. Let them know that you’re grateful for them and the work that they do. Let them know that the company would not survive without them and be specific as possible for each employee. Appreciation goes a long way, especially during the holidays.
Give Time Off Whenever Possible
Obviously, your business does not stop just because it’s the holidays but don’t make employees be at the office — even a virtual one — if they’re not needed. If you can allow employees to take their vacation time, then do it.
If you need to make choices about who can and cannot take the days off, then try to do it fairly. Don’t let one employee have all the days off that he or she wants while the others get none of the days off. It will create resentment among your employees.
Be Flexible with Scheduling
If you can’t afford to let employees take too much time off, consider allowing for flex time. Let them work when they can as long as they can get the work done. During this next month, don’t hold them to a typical nine to five workday unless it’s necessary.
It will allow the holiday spirit to flow a little more freely with your employees even if they can’t leave work entirely.
Hold the Big Projects to the New Year
Unless something must get done before the end of the year, hold off on those big projects until 2021. There’s no reason to add work and pressure during a time when things are normally festive.
Adding to the workload can make you seem like Ebenezer Scrooge before he met the three spirits and that’s not going to endear you to your employees.
When onboarding clients or getting ready to take on new projects with current clients let them know that it is the holiday season and while you plan to provide the same great service, you also want to allow your employees a solid work-life balance.
Manage client expectations so they know that you and your team will not be working Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Most clients will understand that people have lives too. If they don’t, then ask yourself, “Is this a client that I want to work with in the future?” Odds are, if the client does not respect holiday time off, then he or she will not respect time off for your kid’s birthday, your wedding anniversary, or any other important event in your life.
Take Time Off
This leads us to the final suggestion to keep your business on track, take time off. You are not a machine and you are not immune to the holiday spirit. Make sure that you plan time to allow yourself to recharge, spend time with your family and friends (even if it is virtually), and get back into a proper frame of mind. A business will run most effectively when its owner is in the correct frame of mind.
Have a very happy holidays! For some great tips on how to boost business after the holidays, check out this previous post.
Written by Erika Towne