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As the year reaches its finale, thoughts in the workplace turn to Secret Santa, mince pies and the by-now infamous Christmas party. For employees across the business, it’s a time to let their hair down and celebrate another (hopefully!) successful year. However, the job of managers up and down the country – particularly those in HR – can become as stressful as St Nick’s come December.
Not only have HR teams got the seasonal sniffles that wreak havoc on their absence levels to deal with, but one too many mulled wines can leave productivity levels low among a fuzzy-headed workforce. On top of that, rostering can become a nightmare, with parents taking time off for children’s school holidays, staff scrambling to take remaining annual leave before it expires in January and people jetting off on winter getaways ahead of the 25th.
So, with the festive season already in full swing (yes, it gets earlier every year!), how can you manage your teams effectively at possibly the most hectic time of year and maintain productivity levels without coming off as the Grinch?
Businesses are increasingly adopting flexible working models – and not for no good reason. While staff morale is no doubt boosted by less strict regimes, evidence also demonstrates that they help to maximize output: something all companies could do with during the Christmas lull. Happy workers are productive workers, and that couldn’t be truer than over the festive period when employees are prone to switching off, so consider allowing them to work from home if they must, or do overtime one day for an early dart another.
When it comes to the Christmas do, if it’s on a weekday, think about giving staff a few hours off to recover in the morning. Let’s face it, they won’t be at their most productive then anyway so, if possible, let them reboot and revive at home, ready to come in a bit later and tackle their work with a clearer head.
With the number of people needing time off in December – an early finish here, a few days off there – HR teams can be bombarded with requests for shift swaps, annual leave and time off in lieu, leaving them little time to get on with the more strategic element of their role and planning for the new year. Implementing all-singing, all-dancing HR software that puts the power in the employee’s hands, allowing them to manage their own shift patterns, alleviates this stress literally with the click of a button.
While December is certainly a time for getting things wrapped up so you start 2018 without hangover of 2017 work, be mindful that there are only so many hours in a day and it’s important to make your end-of-year goals realistic. Make sure you’re not overloading your employees just to get things done ahead of Christmas – some things can wait until January. After all, you’d rather a job be done properly than rushed before everyone puts on their ‘out of office’.