December 2, 2020
Performance Management 18 November 2020
How To Stay Productive During The Holidays
Isabella A

With the holiday season approaching, everything becomes a little chaotic. There are parties to attend, gifts to buy, meals to make, and family members coming into town... As the seasonal pressure builds up, chances are employees are feeling pretty overwhelmed, and work isn’t a huge priority. 

It’s common to have lower productivity and motivation to complete tasks disappear during this time. In addition to the mounting personal to-do lists, having colleagues and managers leave on vacation can add to the distractions. 

Keeping a productive energy in the workplace during the holiday season can be challenging.  Although it may be tempting to blow off work during the holidays, this time of the year is an excellent opportunity to get a lot of important work done. Not only will you finish the year with a “bang,” but it will lay the foundation for your company to be prepared for the new year.

Keeping employees engaged during this time of year is more important than ever. With all of the holiday energy, it is a great time to foster new ideas, positivity, and creativity. When everyone’s morale is on a high, employee motivation and productivity will increase. Not only will individual employee performance improve, but employees will work together better as a team.  Use the following strategies to make this holiday season a success:


Set Holiday Goals

A great way to engage employees is to set goals. If you set both long and short-termed measurable goals for employees to reach, they have something to be accountable to. When employees have something to be held accountable for, they are more likely to stay focused. 

In the months of October and November, start meeting with employees to plan achievable goals. Before planning these goals, consider the company’s year-end goals, and what you can do to achieve the goals that haven’t been fully met. If you’ve already reached all your goals, this is a great opportunity to get a head start on next year by setting new goals. 

After you have determined the appropriate goals that need to be achieved, meet with each individual employee or team. During this meeting, set some measurable goals that can be met during the holiday season. Bruce Harpham, consultant of SaaS Marketing Services gives some really good advice when it comes to this:

Adjust your expectations based on the fact that there are fewer business days in November and December due to holidays. Therefore, it is wise to consider scaling back your goal 5-10% to fit the time available.

When setting goals with employees, start by planning what needs to be accomplished in the following months, and how they can achieve these goals. A good model to use during this process and throughout the year, is to use a performance management cycle.  Be sure to set clear expectations for productivity as well as an attainable timeline. 


Monitor Employee Progress

Once these goals are set, create a way to monitor their progress throughout the season. This is an especially important step for the holiday season, as distractions are at an all-time high. 

Try using task organization software if you aren't using one already. Our ProSky clients use our desk feature to keep projects, tasks, and training organized so that employees and supervisors are on the same page. Other good software could be something like Asana or Trello. Kacie Hanger, Chief Editor & Planner of The Hen Planner shares her experience using software to monitor progress during the holidays:

One thing I would recommend to keep up productivity during the holidays is a project management tool. One that we use in-house is Trello which involves boards and cards which are extremely useful to track ongoing progress in a certain task.  

It's very easy to lose track of important projects as the holiday rush sets in - make sure you set hard deadlines and monitor the progress of these with your employees. Let your employees or team members know what tasks or projects are the highest priority so there is no ambiguity as to what will be expected first. 

In addition, having leadership around to participate and supervise progress sets a productive tone. Development goals can be altered for the holiday season and give opportunities for different employees to work together as a team. Not only will there be more creative ideas, but they will have other people to be accountable to. 

When rating their progress, make sure that the floor is open to express any concerns or questions. Be sure to provide any constructive feedback at this stage and acknowledge the progress that they have already achieved. It's a great opportunity for improvement and recognition of your employees' performance.

This leads us to the last step, “rewarding employees”. Your employees will appreciate a small token of appreciation for their work in your company. You could even make your rewards be holiday-related! Include holiday-themed rewards such as small gifts or a company holiday party.


Celebrate With Your Employees

The team that celebrates together stays together! Michael Alexis, CEO of Teambuilding.com believes that improving productivity is all about shifting your perspective on what productivity means. He goes on to say, 

Yes, completing work projects is important for moving the ship forward, but so is fostering connections and relationships between your people. Your team is already in the holiday spirit, so use this as an opportunity for having them celebrate together. 

This year, that might mean hosting a virtual holiday party or something similar and include fun games and activities. When the New Year comes and everybody is back to work mode, you will start with a strong foundation of teamwork and engagement.

Big companies like Facebook and Google celebrate the holidays in their own unique ways. Google leans on the more extravagant side by giving gifts to their employees during the Christmas season. Facebook keeps the celebrations more modest by holding a dinner and throwing a holiday party. 

You can keep things as simple as putting up holiday decorations. However, it’s a good idea to find something that fits your company, whether it’s throwing a holiday party or potluck or celebrating in other ways. A holiday party is also a great opportunity to build teamwork. Remember, you don’t have to throw an extravagant party. It’s all about having something for everyone to look forward to and bringing everyone together.

In addition to a company-wide celebration, don’t forget to congratulate employees on their accomplishments. Send holiday greeting cards accompanied with thank you’s for their effort on a great year and expressing your excitement for the success of the year ahead. This shows employees that they are valued by the company, and will encourage loyalty.


Keep Lines of Communication Open

Communication is key!  Ensure that employees know that it's business as usual by communicating with them about expectations throughout the holidays as well as being available for communication when needed. 

Consider either scheduling a company-wide meeting or an email that ensures that everyone is on the same page with company policy during the holiday season. If needed, set weekly meetings and request progress updates to ensure that everyone is staying productive. 

During the holiday season, employees might not feel the need to be productive and many might want to take time off. Coordinating time off requests might be one of the most difficult things to do during the holidays. By keeping organized with the coordination of time off requests you can avoid scheduling conflicts. 

When coordinating requests, you have to first consider the needs of the company. Each company will have different allowances on time off during the holidays depending on specific positions, company size, the industry they are in, etc. 

Make sure that everyone is on the same page with availability and working hours. Open communication is more vital than ever in this situation. Matt Rostosky, owner of CashOfferKY 

I always maintain a culture of open communication in my business, which is very important especially this holiday season. In this way, everyone can be approached when there are issues that need to be addressed. We also try to respect each other's work-life balance and this means that we only communicate beyond work hours if there's an urgent need that we need to respond to. 

Overall, creating a work environment that keeps teams very productive is a result of letting them become more comfortable with each other and respecting their different interests.

By being clear on what employees want as well as the company needs and the policies involved during the holidays before the season starts will help things run a lot more smoothly. Using managerial discretion when approaching this issue might be necessary. 

Holidays are a time for good cheer. Don’t be the office Scrooge, and keep a positive attitude throughout the season! Remember that although working on the holidays might not be the most appealing idea, it doesn’t have to be a bad situation. Small gestures go a long way during this time of the year. 

With these tips, you can make work a place that employees look forward to going to during the holiday season. Remember, holidays are a great opportunity to foster a productive and creative environment to jet start the new year. 


Isabella Ang is a content marketing specialist at ProSky, a company that gives you the ability to innovatively evaluate candidates and develop employees through succession pathways, so you can recruit, hire, and retain the best diverse talent & culture fit. When she's not working on her next or ongoing projects for ProSky; she spends her days rock climbing, practicing yoga, completing her degree in Computer Science, and tutoring writing skills.