Ready for a truth bomb? Across career fields, the average worker is productive for 60% or less each day. For office workers, however, that percentage is even lower. Research conducted by Voucher Cloud determined that the average office worker is only productive for two hours and 23 minutes each day. [i] However, in our changing workforce with flexible schedules and permanent work from home capabilities, data also supports those who work from their home office are more productive than when working in a traditional office environment. According to a survey by ConnectSolutions 77% of those who work remotely at least a few times per month show increased productivity, with 30% doing more work in less time and 24% doing more work in the same period of time.[ii]
As the holidays kick into high-gear, productivity is bound to decrease. Family-related obligations lead to an influx of time off requests across entire organizations, which can cause projects to slow, or in some cases grind to a screeching halt. This lack of productivity undoubtedly places a burden on managers to produce the same output with significantly less staff available.
For employees who decide to power through, absenteeism and low morale can become rampant. Some employees may physically show up to work, but their mind remains preoccupied with holiday shopping or related personal issues. In addition, the stress of meeting end-of-year sales or performance goals may cause staff to burn out under pressure.[iii]
Although it may seem grim, there are a few ways to keep employees productive during this popular time full of outside distractions and walks down memory lane.
1. Offer Rewards & Recognition – The holidays bring about a wave of emotions for most people. Some find themselves daydreaming of the snow angels from their childhood, while others are saddened by celebrating without the ones they love. For employers, this is a great time of year to capitalize on those emotions and focus on only spreading positivity. Create (or increase) your rewards strategy, by offering weekly recognition or additional time off for completed projects ahead of schedule. Praise is widely appreciated and is a motivator for employees to continue putting in their best effort.
2. Allow for Flexibility – The holiday season is the most popular time for time off requests. Employees have family to visit, gatherings to prep for and would rather lounge in bed in comfy clothes enjoying their leftovers, than be on their computer in a meeting. However, this general desire to sit back and relax doesn’t mean work can stop until after the year. Allowing your staff to work from home (or anywhere if traveling), including off hours may help you keep requests down. In addition, you should plan ahead, utilizing part time and contract work as needed, and offer pay incentives for those work on or near Thanksgiving and Christmas in cases where it cannot be avoided.
3. Host Virtual and/or Offsite Employee Celebrations – Although working from home has proven to be more productive, it is also increasing the sense of loneliness. Those who once enjoyed breakroom banter while getting their coffee every morning may now only have their spouse or pet to engage with before they dive into emails. Hosting an off-site (or virtual) celebration can be a stress-free way to improve team camaraderie and combat abandonment. This event can be as simple as a Happy Hour, or a well planned out Holiday Party with raffles prizes and a catered meal.
Employers don’t have to see red during the holidays as long as they manage their staff right. Always remember, the changes that come with this time of year are natural and should be expected. Approach the season proactively, identifying most likely scenarios for your employee population and create solutions on how to handle them. This will show your leadership is ready for challenges and considerate of the staff.