holiday productivity

The holiday season is upon us, which means the office will become more fun and festive in nature. Although the cheery atmosphere of the normally bland office can make your employees happy, it can also slow down their productivity in a variety of ways. Vacation time, family obligations, parties and celebrations are all reasons for their attention to divert away from the task at hand.

While no executive wants to be the “Office Scrooge,” it’s important to keep operations running smoothly during this time. To help make this happen, here are some tips for CEOs to keep their employees on track while retaining the good holiday vibes within the office.

1. Plan Ahead

Using experience from previous years as a roadmap, plot out successes and failures during the holiday season. Was productivity efficient? Did holiday distractions cause missed business opportunities? Was there anything specifically that was too distracting? Jacquelyn Lynn writes about this in her story for, which featured HR consultant Peggy Isaacson, saying:

“‘What were the hassles last year?’ asks Isaacson. ‘Was too much time spent on party planning? Were you short-handed because too many people took time off? What did your customers complain about?’ With this information, you can develop a plan that allows you to maintain productivity and avoid repeating your mistakes. Make it a companywide effort; people are more willing to buy into a solution they’ve helped create. Isaacson says you may need to come up with a fair way to allocate vacation time, and you may want to set limits on gift-giving and parties.”

2. Recognize Your Staff

A morale lift at end the year can both encourage employees as well as give them a spark for the beginning of the new year when January rolls around. Receiving a sincere, hand-written note from a manager or executive level position can mean a great deal to them. Jennifer Lonoff Schiff and Eric Mosley, CEO of Globoforce, wrote about this for

“When employees are thanked for a job well done, they are motivated and inspired to do great work; they are driven to surpass company goals; and they are happier and more committed to their employer,” Mosley says in Schiff’s piece. “Our Workforce Mood Tracker survey shows that there is a demonstrable link between thanks and motivation: 86 percent of employees say that being recognized motivates them in their job. So thank your employees for a job well done — and not just this holiday season but every day, year-round. The positive effect will be palpable.”

3. Free Food!

It may sound silly, but a catered lunch or distribution of holiday snacks can you’re your employees a much needed boost. John Tabis of, noting a survey from Seamless, explores how a reported 60 percent of respondents felt valued and appreciated by having food at the office, and 40 percent said it reduced personal stress levels.

“Consider covering the cost of food for employees — lunch and dinner, if needed — during those long days,” says Tabis. “Alternatively, you can implement a ‘free lunch Friday’ or provide vouchers for local vendors. Business owners have found that even just one free lunch per week can have dramatic impact on employee motivation.”

4. Eat Well, but Keep it Healthy

The many feasts that come as a part of the holidays are inevitable, and they can take their toll on your physical and mental wellbeing. CEOs should keep this in mind and aim to stay consistent with their exercise, Fred Mouawad, CEO of Taskworld, tells us in a story for

“The holidays are a time when routine goes out the window,” says Mouawad. “We have all had that moment in January when we look back on all the ways we indulged during December and regret some of the choices we made. Sticking to your regular exercise routine and controlling portion size over the holidays will allow you to keep a semblance of normality so that your energy levels are up and you can hit the ground running when you need to go back into work mode.”

5. Find Ways to Fight Holiday Stress

Schedule changes and workload shifts can put additional stress on employees. It’s wise for CEOs to take preemptive action and look for ways to alleviate this stress. John Tabis tells us in his piece for Mashable that companies have followed Google’s lead in incorporating fitness classes and other activities for this very reason.

“Sometimes employees need to let off some steam and step away from work for a bit,” Tabis writes. “Although you may not be able to add a full gym to your office, you can look into bringing some of these elements into your workplace during the holidays. Consider offering a yoga class to break up one of your longer days, or implementing walking meetings to accomplish tasks while releasing some endorphins at the same time.”

6. Get Festive

Adding a little holiday flavor to the office can be a nice touch. Don’t go into Clark Griswold from Christmas Vacation mode and set up a million lights, but look for ways to perk up the place. Fred Mouawad of Taskworld gives us a few suggestions, saying:

“Holiday decorations, lightings and treats might seem childish to some, but they boost the morale of the entire team,” he says. “Not only does incorporating a festive atmosphere at work positively affect the performance of employees, but not paying attention to the fun nature of the season might inadvertently leave a bad taste in their mouths.”

7. Seek Informal Feedback

The overall positivity of the holiday season makes it a great time to both seek and offer internal feedback. Mouawad tells us that CEOs should lean more to the positive side so they don’t send employees into year-end fun with frustration and worry.

“Sometimes, feedback given in an informal way has a more lasting impact than formal performance reviews,” he explains. “Take advantage of the light-hearted, festive atmosphere to have a group feedback session, where every team member has to state one positive quality and one area of improvement for every other teammate. This will create stronger team bonding, encourage feedback from multiple sources and, at the same time, provide direction to everyone for the new year.”

8. Try to Clear Employees’ Agendas

Morale boosts can go beyond just snacks and parties. Consider your employees’ workloads during November and December and examine ways to ease their load. This is especially good for those with heavy family responsibilities and may have a bigger impact on their productivity. Jessica Stillman writes about this for

“While breaking down tasks can go a long way towards protecting your team from to-do list overload, sometimes time management isn’t enough,” she writes. “If you anticipate a spike in routine work (and know your team, like everyone else, is going to be managing a lot of personal tasks as well) then do what you can to eliminate any long-term projects that can safely be put off for the new year.”

9. Create December-specific Goals

The idea of creating a different strategy for the last month of the year may puzzle employees at first, but the goal of staying on track is a good one, so consider making it a rewards-based approach. This can result in more productivity during the month, as Evan Davies wrote for the CEO Institute:

“This helps keep the concentration on the present,” Davies explains. “Reward staff for reaching these goals — motivate them, for example, allow them to leave an hour early if they complete a big task on time, or through recognition and a small reward (e.g. a box of chocolates and an email announcement acknowledging their achievement). Rewarding and recognizing achievements boosts morale and enhances motivation.”

10. Enjoy Yourself

After making every effort to keep productivity up and give employees a positive end of the year, CEOs should remember to allow themselves time to enjoy the cheer as well. This can be the key to starting the next year on the right foot, Mouawad writes:

“Being productive doesn’t just mean figuring out ways to work better, it also means figuring out how to rejuvenate yourself,” says Mouawad. “The holiday season is something we all look forward to every year. Do something special; spend quality time with your loved ones. You’ll be surprised at how much this will help you to become more focused at work.”