The period from the week of Thanksgiving until after New Year’s Day can be among the most exciting – and challenging – times of the year. From travel plans to holiday shopping, employees undoubtedly have their plates full outside the office.
But your small business also has much to accomplish before the calendar turns, and a distracted staff dreaming of a white Christmas isn’t going to send 2016 out with a bang. What can a small business leader do to promote morale and productivity during the busy holiday season? Here are some tips:
Get a handle on scheduling
Employee requests for days off come just at the time when customer service and production needs increase at many small businesses. Balancing can be tricky with a limited-size staff, so careful planning becomes essential. Set an early deadline for time-off requests so that you can satisfy coverage needs in the workplace while doing your best to accommodate staff wishes. Keep everyone in the loop with an easily accessible master calendar of important dates and vacation absences.
Give staff members clear goals for the final few weeks of the year, and review regularly to ensure they are being met. Knowing that the boss maintains high expectations and hasn’t “checked out” sets a positive tone.
Focus on results
Small business owners have too much on their plates to waste time monitoring online shopping or exactly how long someone took running to the post office at lunch. Instead, have an honest conversation with your staff. Let them know you understand the importance of work-life balance during the holidays and that you will treat them as professionals capable of managing their own time so long as the work gets done. An employee who nabbed that one-hour-only bargain gift or was able to catch his daughter’s holiday recital by leaving a half hour early will likely repay your trust and flexibility tenfold.
Shake things up
Who couldn’t use an Amazon gift card to help with holiday purchases? Offer one to team members who exceed production goals for the week. Turn staff meetings into mini celebrations with pumpkin spice lattes and cookies. Challenge two team members to swap jobs for a week – they’ll stay engaged learning new skills, and you’ll gain a well-rounded staff. Having difficulty deciding which morale-boosting activities your small business team would most enjoy? Just ask.
While saying “thank you” and acknowledging hard work is important in any season, such recognition takes on added meaning during the holidays. Your small tokens and kind words are proof that you realize the extra focus and effort needed to stay on-task during hectic times. People commonly reflect on their lives as a new year approaches, so really emphasizing each person’s value to your small business will generate positive feelings bound to carry over into 2017.