The holidays can be rough on productivity and the bottom line; vacations and half-days can take key players away from the office and create bottlenecks, but even when they’re physically present, employees are pulled away from their work by a host of seasonal distractions.

Dealing with a temporary case of absent-mindedness during the holiday season can usually be considered a cost of business. After all, hardworking employees deserve a break once a year, and if you allow them to reconnect with their families, bond with each other, relax a little, and take care of personal obligations, they’ll probably come back rested and refreshed in January. But in the meantime, how can you keep your teams from completely checking out before the work is finished? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Encourage communication.

Don’t threaten or implicitly punish employees who ask for vacation days or request help with their workloads during this busy season. Encourage them to provide this notice—the earlier the better. And make it clear that teamwork is the order of the day. Coworkers should cheerfully step in to share the burden and cover for each other, and if there aren’t enough hands to handle the job on a given day, roll up your sleeves and personally take on the task, push deadlines forward, or redistribute responsibilities.

Allow festivity.

Don’t act as though the holidays don’t exist. You don’t have to encourage celebration and goofing off, but don’t forbid a little cheer in the office. Non-offensive decorations should appear around the workplace, and employees should not be prevented from giving each other presents or bringing their traditions to work. In fact, consider regulating this process by holding an official luncheon or Pollyanna style gift exchange.

Let employees leave early before major holidays.

On the Wednesday before thanksgiving and the day before the winter break, allow employees to leave at noon. They’ll have more time to get ready for personal celebrations and they’ll appreciate this small gesture more than you realize.

Schedule reviews carefully.

Don’t schedule reviews in a way that forces managers to lose sleep and draft evaluations when they should be at home celebrating with their families. And try not to deliver harsh criticism or ambitious performance improvement plans right before sending employees away for a holiday break. This usually doesn’t yield positive, productive results. If possible, complete your performance evaluations in October or January.

For more on how to keep your teams on track, motivated, and present (at least partially) during a busy and distracting holiday season, reach out to the staffing and business management team at Expert Staffing.

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