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Your Business - The Holidays

‘Tis the season for traditions and reduced productivity

It's Your Business

The Takeaway
The holidays are upon us once again. Your employees are going to be more social, less focused and less productive for the next month. That's just the way it is, so plan for it and make the most of it.

It's That Time of Year
Most of the leaves have fallen. A nip is in the air. Our 11 month respite from pop culture's assault on our senses and sentiments is about to end. We're going to see so many commercials that we just can't relate to. Giving gifts of expensive jewelry and automobiles? You may start to wonder "What's wrong with me? I don't give those kinds of gifts!" If it makes you feel any better, you are not alone.

We all have holiday traditions in one form or another. At Thanksgiving I take a ride in the wayback machine. I listen to REO Speedwagon's "Flying Turkey Trot" as a last stand before the onslaught of seemingly endless holiday music. And I watch Mr. Carlson's ill-fated "Turkeys Away" promotion before the cloud of Hallmark sentimentality descends upon the land.

For most of your employees, their holiday traditions will include shopping, seeing family and trying to get those coveted days off that surround each holiday.

On Your Marks
Thanksgiving is the starter's gun for the holidays, which bring distracted employees and lower productivity. Embrace and accept it to the best of your abilities. If you don't you can undermine morale and you can wind up losing a good employee or two in the new year.

It's not just your employees who may be distracted. If you're like most small business owners, you're thinking about the holidays too. Spending time with your family and celebrating your success is one of the reasons you started your own business in the first place.

When you take holidays and vacation days into consideration, for the next month or so your payroll may be a little higher while your staff's production is going to be lower. And though this may irk you a little, just keep in mind that your customers' expectations are a little lower this time of year and their level of understanding is a little higher.

Get Set
With all that's going on this time of year it's easy to see why your staff may not be laser focused. Why will your staff be distracted? Do you really need to ask? Here are just a few reasons:
  • Some people will want to personalize their workspace with some holiday accoutrements. This is important to them so don't be a Scrooge.
  • Some of your staff will be playing "Beat the Clock" when they run out at lunch to try to do some shopping. They'll be getting back a little late, so stop watching the clock.
  • Holiday goodies will find their way into your offices. Many take pride in their baking, as well they should. Just let it happen. If you don't want to ruin your diet then exercise your willpower.
  • Sharing their holiday plans with each other, and their holiday stories from years past. Yes, they'll be chit-chatting more than usual. ‘Tis the season after all.
  • They'll be talking about Black Friday sales (which don't even wait for Friday anymore) and participating in Cyber Monday sales (which lands squarely on a workday). Be thankful it only happens once a year.
  • Your staff may be trying to figure out what type of gift to get you. Make it easy for them if you can. If you don't have some sort of collectables in your office, and you don't have a hobby, then try to drop hints.
  • Holiday parties! Either yours or their spouse's. If you don't have a holiday party your staff will remember. It's important to a lot of people and can set the mood for the rest of the holiday season at your business.
  • Does your company hand out holiday bonuses? Not many companies do these days, but the psychological impact of giving a holiday bonus is powerful. If your company does hand them out, your staff will be wondering what extra buying power they have this year.

The holidays' distractions aren't the only thing you can count on this time of year. So get set for the vacation day requests.

Most employees are excited about the holidays. One reason is they get to see family members they may only see this time of year. Often that means they need to travel, one of the most stressful parts of any holiday.

It's important to many on your staff to be able to take a few vacation days around each holiday. This can be to allow for easier holiday travel or just some extra time to recover/decompress from being immersed in family for days at a time. Scheduling this time off can be tricky business. There are more people who want those days off than you can spare. This means there can be hard feelings from those who don't get the days they want (while others may get the same requested days). Management tends to get their pick of days, which - as you can imagine - doesn't always go over well with the rank and file employees.

Happy Holidays!
Enjoy the next few weeks, because this holiday spirit is also a very positive influence on your staff. Sometimes good morale can be a self-fulfilling destination. Travel safe and Happy Holidays!

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