Come mid-December, it’s likely that the pre-Christmas slump is well underway, but how do you go about beating the lull that can seriously jeopardise operations at the end of the year?
Business owners and managers need to find a way of keeping staff motivated and productive, when most people are thinking of Christmas shopping and the party season.
No-one wants to be seen as a modern-day Scrooge, putting an end to everyone’s fun. In fact, coming down hard on staff who may be feeling fatigued and in need of their Christmas break could further demotivate them. The problem is that in the run-up to Christmas, influences outside work may affect employees’ demeanour.
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For example, people may have financial worries and could wonder how they’re going to afford to pay for Christmas. Some people have other concerns about all the family coming together under one roof and the friction that often brings.
So although everyone is at work to do a job, it’s useful to cut people a bit of slack at Christmas and remember they have a personal life outside the workplace. In an ideal world, employees’ personal lives shouldn’t impact on their job – but at this time of year, in particular, it can be challenging to persuade people to remain focused.
Try new incentives
Meetings may be hit hard by the pre-Christmas slump, as attendees have more on their minds than sales figures and marketing campaigns. The solution is to be imaginative and innovative to keep staff on their toes.
The regular methods of incentives for meeting sales targets may not be as successful at this time of year. Try meeting Christmas head-on and have a weekly incentive for staff, rather than an end-of-month bonus.
Then, when you have your weekly meeting, there’s something concrete for attendees to aim for. Offer extra incentives, such as a meal for two, or a bottle of bubbly, for example.
Devise new ways of discussing the business in hand by putting a Christmas slant on your activities, such as a Christmas tree of challenges.
Get everyone in the team to write down what they perceive as their biggest challenges. Limit each person to a maximum of three and ask them to write each one on a sticky note. Ask them to keep it simple and short.
Then, allocate everyone a five-minute slot each to discuss what they have written and why they feel it’s an important topic for discussion. Ask everyone around the table to vote on what they think is the most urgent issue.
Place the sticky notes on a large sheet in the shape of a Christmas tree, with the most voted-for topic at the top and working your way down.
Once you’ve got the most voted-for problem at the top of the tree, where everyone can see it, rephrase it into a challenge, starting with: “How might we…?” and open it for discussion to get attendees’ ideas on a solution. It’s something a bit different to get flagging staff thinking and talking.
If possible, keep the meetings shorter on some days, especially if there genuinely isn’t as much to discuss, so staff can leave a little earlier – this will be much appreciated. Employees will return the favour with goodwill and productivity and your kindness won’t be forgotten in the new year.
Finally, if your company’s client base is finishing at lunchtime on 21st December, why not allow your office to go home early too? After all, it’s only once a year.
If you tell staff in advance, they will have something to look forward to and it will boost morale, at a time when a lot of people are looking forward to going home for Christmas.
It’s far better to deliberately allow for a little slowing down, rather than seeing your business grinding to a halt altogether because you’re cracking the whip too hard.
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