As minds drift to turkey basting and pumpkin-pie making, productivity in the workforce tends to suffer. The holiday slump, beginning with Thanksgiving and making its way well into December, is typically associated with an escalating lack of motivation. It’s the last quarter of the year, employees are drained from the work they have put in up until this point, and stress about the upcoming holiday season is beginning to kick in.
Employers and employees alike can use a little boost during the weeks to come. Instead of falling into a seasonal inefficiency trap, here’s a list of actionable steps to enhance performance in the workplace around the holiday season.
Take advantage of break time. Whether trying to keep up with a deadline, complete a mounting pile of work or just being lazy, skipping a break is never a good idea. Workers who don’t get a chance to take a break from tasks will become tired, stressed and less productive. Managers should encourage employees to take their breaks — even a quick walk around the block or taking 15 minutes to browse through a magazine can be an effective productivity booster.
Condense communications. One way of condensing office communications into a single medium can be via online task management applications. Doing so can help professionals manage and delegate tasks more effectively, especially in a team-oriented environment. There are several on the market to choose from, such as Flow, Basecamp and Asana. By condensing communications to a single online medium, tasks are distinctively designated and productivity can increase.
Put meetings in motion. Meetings and brainstorming sessions don’t always have to be in a conference room — or even indoors. Managers can take a walk with employees instead of stiffly sitting around a table for hours. The movement and change of scenery can trigger creativity and create a nice change of pace that will boost employee morale.
Prioritize. Managers can encourage employees to take care of their most important tasks first thing in the morning. This tends to be the optimal time to complete projects that require attention and focus, as energy levels are at their peak. Save bleak, repetitive tasks for the afternoon, after the mid-day slump kicks in.
Automate wherever possible. Employers can also take advantage of programs that minimize the number of man hours that go into a project. For example, a small business that doesn’t have an accounting department may be able to reduce the effort that goes into time tracking, invoicing and creating estimates by using online software to fulfill invoicing needs. Examples of such programs include Ballpark, Harvest and Paymo.
Institute work-from-home days. Many companies are finding that work-from-home days are an effective way to boost productivity among employees. Once a week, working from a different space can provide a quiet focus that gives workers a boost. From time to time, giving employees the opportunity to set their hours outside of the typical core office hours is a great way to establish trust. Workers will be eager to prove that they can be just as efficient and productive from home. This is an especially welcome idea as the holidays come up.
The key to increasing motivation in the workplace is to create an efficient environment that will promote productivity. Although these suggestions are especially effective when implicated during a low-motivation period such as the pre-holiday season, these techniques can be used year round.
Jenna Kuchinsky is research coordinator at Yulu Communications. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.