One of the most productive times of year for most businesses is the fall. We come back from summer vacations refreshed and ready to accomplish big goals. Unfortunately, it only lasts so long. Halloween comes and goes and once Remembrance Day passes, we are flooded with holiday decorations, distractions, and sales. As a result, employees often start to disengage and it can be difficult to get them back fully before January. The thing is, you still have a business to run.  

Here are some tips for getting things done without becoming the office Grinch.

  Set Realistic Goals The holidays are supposed to be a joyous time of year, but it’s important to remember that your employees are likely under a lot of stress. They’re planning celebrations, prepping for travel, and trying to find that one impossible gift. As their employer, you don’t want to add to this stress. If you are going to miss your year-end sales target by $1M, complaining will only discourage and distract people further. Try setting an aggressive but attainable month-end target and reward it. Accept What You Cannot Change Employees are going to be distracted and are likely to take a couple extended lunches or leave early. Try focusing on results instead of hours, and provide clear expectations as to what is required. Some employers choose to embrace these occurrences by providing their employees with extra time over lunches or on Friday afternoons, which allows them to manage and plan for the absenteeism while simultaneously being supportive. Motivate & Support Figure out what your employees want and provide it. It doesn’t always have to be a cash incentive. You could offer to close on Christmas Eve if X, Y, and Z are accomplished. Or, it could be something less formal such as offering to run an errand for them when they are in project crunch time. Get creative! I worked in an M&A (mergers and acquisitions) world where it seemed like we had an acquisition closing every January 1st. It was crunch time and I remember on one particular snowy December day, our CEO was literally in the parking lot clearing off our vehicles so we would not have to do it when we left. This gesture went a long way and I still talk about it today. Don’t Forget to Celebrate! Everyone loves a good Holiday Party this time of year. However, if this is your busiest time of year or you are in the middle of a huge project, keep it small or wait until the New Year. In January, venues are usually less expensive and more likely to be available. You can do a lot more for less, while still showing your employees how valued and appreciated they are. In industries that are operating flat-out all winter long, it’s not uncommon for a summer or fall holiday celebration to occur. Say Thanks! Show your appreciation not only to your employees, but their families as well. While they are working late for you, their spouse is home cooking supper or getting the kids ready for bed. Take a moment and say thank you. Showing you recognize their stress and supporting them throughout the season will help you achieve your goals and start the New Year right!   Sarah Mullins is the founder of uptreeHR, a Halifax based human resource consulting firm that is passionate about helping business leaders manage their people, set clear expectations, and increase performance. We truly believe you can treat your employees well, create an amazing culture, and not break the bank.  To book a complimentary 30-minute consult with Sarah, click here.
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