‘Tis the season of gift-giving, extra family time, sweet treats and a joyous feeling floating through the air. All good things, except when those holiday staples result in increased time-off requests, less focused employees and Cyber Monday internet browsing not related to work. It’s possible to keep the holiday spirit alive while also ensuring that business runs without a hitch through the fall and winter months. Business owners and managers -- consider implementing these four best practices in order to negate the annual holiday holdup.
Increasing the level of responsibility an employee has provides a greater sense of ownership. The more accountability one has, the more motivated they are to produce their best work. Promoting this concept is especially important during the holiday season in order to ensure that work doesn’t fall off the grid as people itch to leave the office early or get distracted by those online holiday sales. Particularly for millennial workers, showing them that “help is not coming” is a surefire way for them to take full responsibility of designated projects, therefore preventing them from succumbing to cold-induced laziness. Knowing that staff members feel accountable for their work also allows for greater peace of mind when business owners travel to see family and friends during the holidays.
On the flip side, for some entrepreneurs, letting go of control can be intimidating -- a blow to the ego. According to Aaron Skonnard, president and CEO of Pluralsight, the best leaders are those who provide experienced and reliable employees with full autonomy, which also allows for greater growth potential. The key here is to “abandon the one-man band syndrome” and to work with people who are actually more skilled than the founder in certain areas. Even the smartest entrepreneurs have their shortcomings, so trust in employees is paramount.
Modern office environments are also moving towards the trend of hiring virtual assistants in order to optimize operations and maintain a competitive advantage. There’s a misconception that virtual assistants are brought in to replace staff, but that’s not the case. As the workplace evolves, there should still be a central team of key people, with virtual assistants augmenting the team. Some entrepreneurs are finding that it makes less sense to employ a ton of people who are not individually efficient, and more sense to have a core team and then entrust the rest to on-demand skilled workers in the areas where help is required.
Delegating to trusted employees and/or virtual assistants also gives business owners the gift of time back. Whether it’s having the bandwidth to work on a creative idea they’ve been playing with, taking an overdue vacation or just being able to disconnect for a weekend to enjoy their family’s company, passing the torch is a vital step in keeping the momentum going. In a business owner’s absence, they must set clear goals for their employees to meet, provide them with the necessary tools to work independently, equally and fairly delegate and plan check-ins upon their return.
Indulge employee distractions and foster fun.
As online holiday shopping sales become unavoidable -- as well as the looming task of buying gifts for everyone on your list -- employees will inevitably be distracted from work. In fact, 44 percent of employers say that the internet is the biggest distraction for their employees. In the same vein as “if you can’t beat them join them,” consider providing staff with an unexpected reward like indulging them with an hour of uninterrupted online shopping time during their lunch break on Cyber Monday. The idea behind providing employees with this free time is that inevitable online shopping distraction will ideally be contained to only this designated period during the work day, with potential consequences if not abided by. Another option on a simpler level is to hold a contest where the winner receives a gift card that they can use for their holiday purchases.
In order to combat the stuck-inside winter blues, infuse some fun into the workplace environment. Offer periodic office lunches, host a holiday party or organize a gift exchange so that employees can get to know each other on a personal level, in turn promoting a stronger team. A 2012 Gallup study found that work friendships can boost employee satisfaction by 50 percent, and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work. That’s argument enough to not just plan an office holiday party, but get excited about it!
At the end of the day, nothing can fully combat Monday to Friday daydreaming of holiday parties and Christmas morning with the family. 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. By assigning accountability, conveying a trusting relationship and embracing the lighthearted spirit of the season, staff will be more inclined to put their best work and best selves forward, in turn keeping business momentum moving and giving entrepreneurs the ability to step away, reboot and have a happy holiday themselves.