It’s hard not to get caught up in the spirit of the holiday season, for better or for worse. With company parties, end-of-the-year tasks and personal commitments, this time can become an all-encompassing behemoth of festivity. It filters into nearly every aspect of our daily lives, including our workplaces.
Every employer is aware that keeping employees on task and productive during the holiday season can be a unique challenge. In fact, over 30% of employees find it difficult to balance work and holiday obligations, according to a Robert Half survey of more than 2,700 U.S. workers. Between paid time off (PTO), unplanned absences and office festivities, employers could potentially undo all the success they achieved earlier in the year.
While it’s probably not realistic to expect full focus from every employee, there are a number of steps employers can take to inspire a more engaged and productive workforce to finish the year strong.
Know Key Data
It’s all too easy to think of employee engagement in December as a purely emotional subject. The holidays are a busy time, and people are just distracted, right?
The truth is that analyzing data can teach employers a lot about what triggers December disengagement and how to combat it. Before addressing employee engagement, it’s important to accurately assess it. Regular analytics reports are an invaluable tool for evaluating employee hours, average workload, rates of absenteeism and other key factors for measuring engagement both overall and individually. A human capital management (HCM) system with strong analytics tracking can go a long way toward helping employers understand the contributing factors of holiday burnout.
Address Barriers to Productivity
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season may require employers to introduce a flexible work environment. By providing employees with the ability to work remotely, companies can yield greater productivity during this season. In fact, one survey found that 91% of workers are as productive or more productive when they can work remotely during the holidays.
The general atmosphere of December is often that of looking back on the accomplishments and shortcomings of the year gone by. With that kind of emphasis on wrapping up old business, it’s no wonder that so many employees regard the end of the year as a time to wind down and disengage for a week (or several).
Employers can try to counteract that effect by reminding their workers that the end of the working year also means the start of a new one. They can do so by emphasizing what’s in store for the coming year while also taking the time to celebrate the milestones of the current one. Some companies use year-end town hall meetings, goal-focused planning sessions or one-on-one check-ins. Here, too, HCM and performance management systems can offer vital insights to help companies set reachable goals to boost enthusiasm across the workforce.
Give Strong Feedback
Regardless of the time of year, research shows that relevant, actionable feedback plays an important role in employee engagement. Ongoing, real-time feedback is especially valuable. A reliable performance management system that offers consistent tracking and analysis can help improve the lines of communication. When workers have a better picture of how their performance measures up to expectations, productivity and engagement will increase as well — even in the heart of the holiday season.
However companies decide to address end-of-the-year engagement issues, remember that it is a hectic and overwhelming time for many people. Taking a heavy hand with disengaged employees is unlikely to have a positive impact in the long term. Instead, consider leaning into the curve.
There are plenty of ways employers can make the workplace a fun and engaging place during the final weeks of the year, from creating an awards ceremony to offering optional group volunteer opportunities. While it may seem counterintuitive, employers can often foster engagement by giving employees a change in the routine and by letting them know that they’re right there with them in the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
Companies cannot effectively implement end-of-year practices to address potential holiday lag without adequate data on staffing, workloads and scheduling. The right HCM solution can provide employers insight into essential processes and improve communication that empowers both employees and managers during the holiday season and beyond it.