Business development 5 December 2017

How employers can maintain Christmas productivity during December

Office Christmas party
It can be hard to maintain productivity around Christmas

The festive season presents many difficulties for employers, and keeping staff focused on their job is one such problem, writes Head of Advisory at Peninsula, Kate Palmer.

As Christmas gets closer employers may experience a visible loss in productivity as employees’ minds become occupied by festivities.

Research has found that around 60 per cent of workers experience a noticeable decline in productivity by the week before Christmas.

Some employees surveyed said they would start being distracted in November. Any distraction will lead to a large amount of work being lost, so employers must proactively manage this.

Trying to discourage all mention of the festivities, or simply ignoring Christmas, is unlikely to have the desired effect. An imaginative way of maintaining Christmas productivity, whilst embracing the period, is to introduce Christmas-based incentives during December.

These incentives could set targets for staff to achieve on a daily, weekly or even monthly period with an appropriate Christmas theme. The prize could be as simple as a box of chocolates or as elaborate as a Christmas hamper.

Creating a fun and competitive atmosphere around the incentive will spur staff on to work hard and achieve their targets. Although staff will be focused on winning the prize, this will ensure Christmas productivity remains high during December.

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Effectively managing work around employee absences will be crucial to maintain Christmas productivity, as the period is often one of high holiday and sick leave. Managers should have easy-to-read records, or a visual tool to see who has time booked off and when.

To ensure Christmas productivity is not negatively affected by additional holiday, a meeting can be arranged with the employee before leave starts to check whether they have any outstanding tasks.

If so, a full handover should be carried out with their colleague to ensure they are comfortable with the task. A proper handover removes the possibility of work being left incomplete until the employee returns from their Christmas holidays.

Planning the company’s festive activities sensibly will help limit their effect on staff Christmas productivity.

Although having a midweek Christmas party may appear to be a good idea, a late night and the after effects of alcohol are likely to negatively impact productivity the following day.

Similar advance planning will help limit the impact of other events, for example, the annual Christmas buffet can be held on the quietest day of the week or the gift exchange can be scheduled for after work.

Using the Christmas period to thank staff and show appreciation for their hard work throughout the year will re-engage staff at this difficult period of the year.

They are more likely to feel appreciated and put in extra discretionary effort if they receive an end of year thank you or a small Christmas gift.

Including family members in the Christmas gatherings, for example, a children’s Christmas party, will also increase employees’ goodwill towards the employer and encourage them to continue working hard.

Kate Palmer is Head of Advisory at Peninsula Law.

HMRC seasonal rules allow employers to throw staff a tax-free Christmas party

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