By David E. Hubler
Contributor, Online Career Tips
With Halloween behind us and the calendar into November, it’s time to start thinking about how the upcoming holidays will affect your office productivity.
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If you’re planning on office decorations, Thanksgiving is easy. Some plastic or paper turkeys and a couple of toy pilgrims displayed on a bed of brown and orange autumn-colored tissue paper should suffice. You could also add some seasonal fruits.
Thanksgiving is a nondenominational holiday that includes all races, creeds and religions, although it didn’t start out that way in 17th-century New England. Only members of the predominant Protestant sect were permitted in the Massachusetts Bay Colony; others were driven out of the colony and some were burned at the stake as witches.
But coming in December, there are holidays that are anything but nondenominational. So “try to be inclusive,” advises Jeff Charles in Small Business Trends. “Chances are, your workforce is made up of people from different backgrounds. You want to try to honor their backgrounds as much as you can.”
Symbolize Your Diverse Workforce with Items Representing Different Religions
A good way to symbolize your diverse workforce is to include some items representing Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa. You might be thinking of Christmas music, too.
“But allowing this [music] might make it hard for other team members to focus” on the work at hand, Charles points out. “The key is to be sensitive to the members of your team.” Keep in mind also that, thanks to social media, it’s easy to become overexposed to seasonal songs.
Manage Holiday Requests for Time Off by Setting Clear Policies
The holiday season is also a time when workers want time off to visit family and friends in other parts of the country.
“If policies and expectations aren’t clear, this can cause internal issues,” warns the National Organization of Rheumatology Managers (NORM). “Your policy should discuss how time off will be handled. These requests should fall under an approval process and it is important to discuss how many employees can take off at one time.”
Keeping the Holiday Spirit while Ensuring Office Productivity
Barnaby Lashbrooke, a guest writer at Entrepreneur, insists “It’s possible to keep the holiday spirit alive while ensuring that business runs without a hitch through the fall and winter months.”
Lashbrooke offers three best practice tips “to negate the holiday holdup” of office productivity:
1) Assign accountability. Increasing employees’ level of responsibility provides a greater sense of ownership. The more accountability employees have, the more motivated they are to produce their best work. Promoting this concept is especially important during the holiday season to ensure that work doesn’t fall off the grid as people itch to leave the office early.
2) Let go. The best leaders are those who provide experienced and reliable employees with full autonomy. That also allows for greater growth potential. The key is to “abandon the one-man band syndrome. Even the smartest entrepreneurs have their shortcomings. So trust in employees is paramount.”
3) Indulge employee distractions and foster fun. Employees will inevitably be distracted from work by holiday shopping, either online or in person. So, if you can’t beat them, join them.
Consider providing your staff with an unexpected reward like indulging them with an hour of uninterrupted online shopping time during their lunch break, perhaps on Cyber Monday. Another option is to hold some sort of office contest with the winner receiving a gift card to use on holiday purchases.
Of course, nothing can fully combat office daydreaming of holiday parties, gifts and visits to parents and grandparents, Lashbrooke concedes. “However, it’s important that business owners consider these tactics in order to ensure that business runs at peak efficiency all 12 months of the year.”
Implementing the three tips, he says, will encourage workers “to put their best work and best selves forward.”