The festive season is a time for goodwill, gift exchanging, over-indulging and merriment, and the workplace is usually no exception. Some of our colleagues might take extended breaks, visiting family over the Christmas period, or spending their New Year on an exotic, far-flung beach (lucky them).
Then there are the Christmas parties, long lunches, gifts arriving from clients, or perhaps just the lure of the communal tins of chocolates… there are more than a few reasons to be distracted, to experience a drop in productivity, and to maybe feel less than well.
How can you avoid that seemingly inevitable lull in output and wellbeing during December?
Wellness is key
Many people still tend to think of wellness as a synonym for health – and in the workplace, that generally means people avoiding coughs and colds and not having to stay off work. As Bupa states, wellness is not simply the absence of illness, it is the overall wellbeing of a person, and that includes things like mental health, sleeping pattern, diet and happiness or comfort, especially in the workplace.
Wellness is not simply the absence of illness, it's the overall wellbeing of a person - Bupa
With December’s party-packed calendar looming, it’s likely that you may worry about employees getting sick, or even drinking a bit too much and experiencing a hangover. Don’t forget about the less obvious, but still important, aspects of wellness: for example, mental health issues and chronic loneliness can flare up for many people during the holiday season, or that vicious cycle of too much sugar and alcohol may cause some individuals to struggle with lethargy and lower morale.
Ensure your workforce feel supported in coming forward with any wellness issues, and it’s one less thing to worry about. It might be better for someone to have a duvet day to reset themselves, rather than attempt to push through and end up burning out.
Be realistic about productivity levels
As much as we might all want December to be as successful as any other month, the fact of the matter is that with days off, employees on annual leave, parties to attend and socialising with clients to do, productivity levels might naturally drop some. And that’s ok.
If you set realistic goals for teams, and put the emphasis on getting the important stuff done (and the rest can wait to January), you’ll create a more pleasant atmosphere for everyone. Putting trust in staff to manage their own schedules and responsibilities is probably a far smarter approach than attempting to micromanage.
Consider incentives or perks
The age-old carrot and stick way of motivating is still in use for a reason – it works! However, according to Perkbox, a whopping 64% of organisations do not use end-of-year incentives to try and inspire employees.
In today’s competitive marketplace, it makes sense on many levels to offer employees a suitable reward for hard work, and in December, it may be just the ticket to help stave off the ‘end of term’ feeling. It doesn’t have to be a big Christmas bonus; any reward or gift to show that the hard work is appreciated can go a long way.
The festive period is an excellent time to try out a more flexible approach to working, particularly as the office will likely be half-empty on key dates anyway. If you already have flexible work policies in place, be sure to use them!
Allow staff to work from home, or from their favourite coffee shop, or wherever they’ll be most comfortable (probably not in a cold, empty office, it must be said!). Think about utilising flexi time schemes, or simply giving everyone the morning off after the Christmas party. Any way that you can introduce a bit more flexibility into the fold, will pay dividends in helping keep morale and wellness at an appropriate level.
Overall, your approach will vary according to your workplace culture, and the industry you’re in. Some of us will be granted multiple days off over Christmas and New Year as a default, whereas others won’t be as lucky. The most important thing is to keep the lines of communication open between business leaders and employees, and ensure that everyone is listened to.
This is the number one thing that anyone can do to help boost the productivity and wellness of the average workforce, and the best thing about it is that it costs nothing.