How to Keep the Focus During Holiday Season

Joe Weinlick
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From Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, Americans indulge in one treasured holiday ritual after another. With all of the fun happening outside of the office, it can be a challenge for employees to stay focused. As a manager, you should allow for celebration without sacrificing productivity. In doing so, you can start the new year on a positive and profitable note.

Provide Festive Outlets

During the holiday season, employees are more likely to be distracted by personal obligations, thoughts of upcoming events and general holiday cheer. If you're a manager, it is pointless to ignore the season; doing so will only make you seem like a Scrooge. Instead, plan regular outlets for the festive energy of the year. Schedule an office Christmas party, plan a Secret Santa gathering or invite employees to participate in a workspace decorating contest. When workers have a set schedule of events to look forward to, they can plan their time efficiently to stay focused.

Communicate Clearly

If your company has had problems with performance during a past holiday season, communicate the issues clearly to your staff. Let your team know how excessive absences or short-staffed days impacted the business, giving numbers when possible to reinforce the severity of the situation. Explain that you'd like to allow room for holiday flexibility, and ask employees for suggestions about how to avoid problems. This nonconfrontational strategy communicates the potential issues and harnesses the creativity of your team. Being open with your staff helps them understand that their actions have a direct impact on the company's profits, individual bonuses and future employment. As a result, they may be more likely to stay focused.

Plan Early

Employees often take vacation during the holidays, leaving the office running at partial strength. Avoid unexpected bottlenecks by asking employees to put in their time-off requests well in advance. At the same time, map out the workflow and deadlines for each outstanding project, noting which employees are required at specific times. If necessary, ask individuals to rearrange their vacations to accommodate delivery dates. By planning early and ensuring that key staff will be on hand to complete projects, you can avoid stress for everyone on the team. Make the information available to your employees so they can plan their workflows and stay focused during crucial times.

Allow Flexibility

During the holidays, allow employees a greater level of scheduling flexibility whenever possible. Refusing vacation or flextime requests only breeds discontent and frustration, which can damage productivity and make it impossible for staff to stay focused. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, for example, you might allow employees to come in early and leave early in order to attend their children's holiday events. Consider also letting employees work from home, stay late or pop in on the weekend. The knowledge that you are willing to accommodate their schedules can prompt employees to stay focused.

No matter what your industry, helping employees stay focused is a crucial consideration during the holiday months. By planning in advance, communicating clearly and allowing as much flexibility as possible, you can motivate your staff to remain productive into the new year.


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