How to keep your staff motivated during the Christmas period

December has arrived and as the Beach Boys so astutely sang: “Christmas comes this time each year”.  No doubt it won’t be long before the office is transformed into a winter wonderland with that wobbly fake tree, some well-placed baubles and tinsel strewn over the monitors (providing health and safety allows, naturally!).

It’s worth remembering that December can be one of the most challenging months of the working year, offering fewer man-hours to do the same amount of work.  It is also a time of year when morale can dip, with employees focused on events that take place outside the workplace.

As such, here are a few top tips on keeping your staff motivated throughout the Christmas period:

Plan in advance to prevent pressure

Remember last December, when you and the team worked tirelessly down to the wire to get all of your work completed by Christmas Eve?  To avoid a repeat of any such pressures this year and risk dangerously impacting morale, it’s key to do some planning in advance.

To fulfill your obligations, you’ll need to ascertain what capability the team has for the month, subtracting holidays.  This may serve as a bit of a wake-up call; but will enable you to schedule work over the weeks as appropriate.  Bear in mind that December is a month in which most employees will have social engagements to go to, thus won’t be able or feel inclined to stay late and work overtime.

The earlier you do this the better, as it will allow you to more evenly distribute tasks over a greater amount of time and meet  targets without needing to stay late.

Manage the holidays

It’s fair to say that the rigmarole surrounding holidays at Christmas is something which managers dread.  It’s always a struggle with employees vying against each other for the same few days off.  No matter what you do, someone will end up feeling demotivated.  That’s why it’s important to manage employees’ expectations ahead of time by communicating your holiday policy.

It’s hard to please everyone, but there are a few steps you can take to minimise the bad feeling.  Firstly, play fair and try to let as many people as possible have at least one day off.  Perhaps implement a system whereby those who were not granted leave last year get first refusal this year.  Employees would be hard-pushed to argue against such a rationale.

Consider flexible working

There are other options, naturally.  You might like to consider flexi-time where individuals could bank up some hours in advance and complete the work earlier.  Or let them alter their start and end times to factor in personal obligations – allowing them to leave early to hit the Christmas market when they’ve started at 8am could really give them a boost.  Alternatively, you could allow some trustworthy employees to work from home.

To really increase motivation, however, you could cut the working day short; perhaps release staff early on the days between Christmas and New Year.  Of course, the biggest and most motivating gesture would be to consider closing the office altogether.  Of course, you’d need to factor in the financial implications, but the appreciation felt by the workforce could be well worth it.

Find non-financial incentives

Christmas is a time when employees admittedly come to expect a lot, but long gone (in most cases) are the days of the Christmas bonus or hamper.  However, it’s still possible to motivate and encourage productivity via non-financial means.  Maybe the person that exceeds target or receives the best feedback could win a bottle of something fizzy?  Or the most hard-working teams could be rewarded with a tin of Quality Street?  The little things really do count and will go a long way to raising morale.

Have fun in the office

At a time when people would much rather be at parties, shopping or spending time with their loved ones, creating a fun and friendly atmosphere in the office could make all the difference to morale.  This will demonstrate to employees that you’ve considered their well-being and want them to be happy.

Some low-cost ideas include allowing staff to play festive music, relaxing the dress code, launching a Christmas jumper competition, organising a ‘secret santa’ or supplying copious boxes of mince pies.

Company events

For some employees, it may as well be law for companies to throw a Christmas ‘do’ of some description.  Joking aside, a party or lunch is a great way to let people unwind, bond and feel valued.  You’ll be amazed how much more motivated the staff can be after the Christmas party – especially if you put some money behind the bar.

To ensure the success of your event, consider getting some of the team involved – perhaps create an event committee – to determine what sort of event they would like and subsequently ensure its success.  A dinner might be favoured over a disco, or maybe an ice skating trip would be more appealing?

Give something back

Put everything into perspective by organising a charity initiative that the company can participate in.  Popular schemes include collecting goods for food banks, donating gifts to children’s charities or raising some money through carol singing.

This shift in focus can put events into perspective and make employees appreciate the important things in life.  They might also respect the company’s sense of corporate social responsibility and feel a renewed sense of pride at working for you.

At this time of year, there are lots of steps a business can take to keep their workers motivated, the above is just a start.

Do you have any more suggestions?  Tweet your festive motivation tips: @hiddeninsights_