Managing Employees

Make Holiday Shenanigans Work for Your Bottom Line

It’s no secret that the five-week period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day can be tricky for a business owner to manage. With a handful of major holidays packed into a very small corner of the calendar, employees have plenty of excuses to be distracted.

What may come as a surprise, though, is that embracing the “holiday brain” might benefit entrepreneurs. Just as jujitsu teaches practitioners to channel an opponent’s energy to achieve their goals, running a business during the holidays requires accepting the fact that there will be a certain amount of shifted focus and figuring out how to use it for the good of the company.

Related: Don't Let Your Holiday Party Cheer Steer You Into Court

1. Imbibing too much at the holiday party.

Holiday parties are notorious for some employees' overindulging in excessive merriment. As long as everyone gets home safely, though, the revelry can be a good thing.

When a team bonds over a few drinks, this can build ties that last long after the eggnog is finished. In some cases, the bonding might be most effective if the head of the company ducks out early, leaving someone else in charge of making sure everyone travels home safely. 

2. Shopping online during business hours.

Employees' browsing holiday sales is not ideal if they should be working. But by assuming that there will be a certain amount of covert shopping, however, business owners can task their teams with compiling a list of worthy online selling techniques, including promotion strategies, effective copy, page layout, shopping-cart design and email offers.

People tend to be enthusiastic about the brands they love, and this is an opportunity to see which strategies and techniques are most effective among real-life customers.

If you find employees are taking long lunches to shop at brick-and-mortar stores, encourage them to snap pictures and share with their social media followers their lunchtime purchases or, if the weather’s crazy, their cold-weather gear. When employees post pictures of their being real, this can help a business engage its followers by showing its human side.

Related: Marcus Lemonis's Top 10 Tips for Businesses This Holiday Season

3. Being less engaged.

For those planning to take time off, the days leading to the break often include several trips to la-la land. It’s challenging to force employees to focus, so consider offering additional incentives (like gift cards) to those who reach short-term goals.

If that doesn’t work, ask for volunteers to complete tasks around the office that have been put off all year. Cleaning out the fridge scores tangible results for everyone, and reorganizing the storage closet could unearth supplies that would otherwise need to be ordered in the coming months. 

4. Seasonal work syndrome.

Companies that experience their busiest months over the holidays may need to bring on short-term help, and these interim staffers might be less engaged. Remember, though, that their outside perspectives can be valuable for improving operations. Once temps have had a chance to learn their jobs, ask them to share which processes seem inefficient or how they’ve done tasks differently elsewhere. Use their feedback to re-evaluate systems that haven’t been updated in a while.  

But if the holidays are slow for your business and staff employees are sitting around bored because there’s not much work to do, consider closing the company's doors between Christmas and New Year’s Day. A clean break can be energizing and can improve focus on the days employees are in the office.

Even the most successful startups can’t avoid a little employee slackening around the holidays. Stop resisting it and start using these behaviors to help reach existing goals. To stay relevant, a business has to be able to learn from everything that happens, and employees’ holiday temperaments as just one more opportunity to make a business great.

Related: The Best (And Only) Tips You Need for the Office Holiday Party