Wintertime brings with it a bevy of holidays, and that means one thing for business owners: your workers are going to be distracted.

Whether it’s planning a New Year’s Eve soiree or buying gifts for family members, employees may experience productivity dips when the holiday season is in full swing.

Although it may be tempting to simply tell employees that they are expected to keep up their usual focus despite the social celebrations and obligations of the holidays, it’s not always the best way to approach the situation.

Instead of leaving productivity to chance, consider implementing “holiday-friendly” working strategies.

1. Consider changing office work hours to be more flexible

Between kids’ functions and other personal responsibilities, workers may have a tough time making it to work at the same time each day.

If you can offer employees the opportunity to switch up their work hours to meet their social demands, you’ll ease their psychological burden—which can be heavy at the holidays.

This doesn’t mean you won’t get the same 40 hours each week from your team; however, you could always offer a more flexible time arrangement. This could look like allowing some individuals to come in at 7 a.m. and leave at 3 p.m. rather than coming in at 9 a.m. and leaving at 5 p.m.

As long as the work is getting done, it shouldn’t be an issue. Besides, research shows that flexible working hours are actually a productivity booster.

2. Try not to demand overtime work unless absolutely necessary

Sometimes client work demands overtime; that’s to be expected and honored.

However, if a client’s project can be finished tomorrow without creating any friction, there’s no need to make employees stay late tonight. During winter holidays, overtime is seen as a punishment by some and may end up affecting the quality of the work that’s being done.

All the team is thinking about is what they’re missing while at the office. Yes, there may be times when overtime is necessary, but keep it to a minimum. You may also want to ask key players if they wish to get overtime; some will have more flexible calendars than others or may want to work overtime for extra cash.

3. Disallow online holiday shopping during work hours

This is a really important way to manage productivity during winter holidays, because it’s so pervasive in the workplace.

When it’s possible to do the bulk of your holiday shopping on the internet, who wouldn’t be tempted to do it 24/7 and get it out of the way? Unfortunately, if a person is shopping during work hours, he or she isn’t doing work.

Make it clear that office equipment, as well as personal devices, are not to be used for holiday shopping when an employee is on the clock. Be strict about this, and don’t violate it yourself.

4. Be realistic about holiday banter

The holidays will always create share-worthy stories, and that’s fine. In fact, you’ll probably have some yourself.

Be realistic and accept that employees are always going to want to chat with one another about holiday-related activities, expectations, and so on. You can join in too, even if you’re the boss. Just make sure there’s a balance between the time spent talking about Aunt Jane’s ugly sweater collection and the client’s portfolio.

5. Have team meetings to discuss external and internal deliverables

No one loves to have meetings ad nauseam, but at holiday times, those meetings can help everyone stay on the same page. For instance, a standing Monday morning meeting can set up the week for efficiency, rather than leaving output levels to chance.

Don’t be afraid to be very pointed during the weekly meetings; explain to the team what absolutely has to get done, and ask members to be accountable for different elements of projects. If you need to put some kind of scoring system in place to keep everyone productive, so be it. Halfway through the week, check to see if progress has been made.

You don’t have to micromanage; simply make everyone aware that you’re serious about keeping the workflow going. If employees begin to slack off on their work, you’ll know immediately and can intervene before disaster occurs.

6. Ratchet up your company’s social networking posts

Why ignore the fact that everyone’s in holiday mode on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram? This is a prime time of the year to get attention at your business page, so encourage your employees to post pictures and thoughts.

This puts a very human face on your business, and it is usually fun for workers. Additionally, it may attract more readers to your blog or sites, which will only help in the long run.

7. Help a nonprofit as a team

‘Tis the season for giving, so why not take a Friday afternoon and help at a women’s shelter, the local food bank, an animal protection society, or other community-minded organization?

If you aren’t able to be on site, take up an employee collection, and match it with funds from the business. This will not only get you a little PR, but it will also show some goodwill.

Besides, most people like the feeling that their company is giving back in a substantial way.

8. Allow workers to leave early on New Year’s Eve

Traffic is notoriously bad on New Year’s Eve day, so surprise your employees by allowing them to leave the office early that day. It’s better safe than sorry, especially if the weather is a factor.

Besides—they’ve been productive lately because you’ve been following these guidelines (!!!), so they definitely deserve a nice break.

9. Have fun—the holidays only roll around once a year!

Finally, don’t avoid the fact that the holidays are upon us. Instead, embrace them, and try new things as a manager. By understanding that the holidays are a busy time and working with your employees, you’ll be rewarded with employees who are more productive year round.

The more creative and open-minded you can be, the better the chance that you’ll sail through this time of the year without incident or lack of productivity.

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