With the Christmas period upon us, many employees will be thinking about winding down or will have their minds on presents and parties. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported last year that business productivity reduced during the last quarter of the year.
With small and medium sized businesses having tight budgets, focussed targets and compact workforces, finding ways to maintain employee enthusiasm and productivity is key in the run up to the holidays.
YouGov have recently published their top seven ways employers can help staff stay motivated and engaged right up to the big day and we have pulled out the main points for you here:
- Say thanks – We all know that saying thank you is important, but for some SMEs this can get overlooked in the workplace. For some members of your team a little ‘thank you’ just to them for their efforts can go a long way, but for others a grander gesture is needed. If you hold regular team meetings or send out business wide communications, get as many ‘thank yous’ in as you can.
Your office Christmas party could be pitched as a business wide thank you to everyone or you could pick out specific people/projects or deliverables to enable you to publicly thank individuals within your team.
- Look after the health of your team – People are more prone to falling ill during winter. Encourage employees to keep active and take part in sporting activities to benefit their health and reduce stress levels. You could share the benefits of having a flu vaccination or taking vitamins.
When employees do fall sick, be mindful not to force them back into work until they are fully recovered. According to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), organisations who push for employees to return to work too soon are nearly twice as likely to report an increase in overall stress-related absence.
- Offer flexible working where possible – This is perhaps the most cost effective solution to motivate staff. A survey by YouGov found that 70% of office workers said that it is important for businesses to allow them to work remotely. Do your staff have end of year targets to hit? Consider allowing them to focus at home, away from the noise and distractions of the office.
- Be family friendly – Many SMEs are family run, but if you’re one that’s not, make sure you’re family friendly. Avoid resentment by letting employees attend any special family moments that come with the season. Employees will appreciate that you care about their personal lives and be less likely to let their productivity drop or ‘pull a sicky’. Are their children due to be in a school play? Think about the overall benefits to the business of letting them leave early so they don’t miss those family moments.
- Focus on goals – More than two thirds (69%) of employee workloads increase in the run up to Christmas. Make sure you and your workforce prioritise by delivering the time-sensitive tasks that really count so everyone, including you, can relax and spend time with their loved ones over Christmas and start the New Year re energised.
- Lead by example – Whilst it’s vital for SMEs not to totally power down during the whole month of December, it’s important for business leaders to set an example and strike a work-life balance. If your SME is shutting down over Christmas, make sure you stay off emails and remember that this is a time for everyone to relax – including you.
- Measure what matters – Finally, remember to ask for feedback from your employees on the year. Feedback is important to understanding your employees and what makes them tick. You could try an anonymous survey or informal 1-2-1 chats with everyone. Get everyone in the right headspace for the New Year.
By doing as much you can to engage your team this side of Christmas, you will help to safeguard your valuable assets (your people) for the New Year when everyone is re-evaluating their goals and setting resolutions.
We have loads more tips about employee engagement and the benefits on our blog.
We hope you have a lovely Christmas.