From the end of October through the beginning of January, offices tend to be a never ending cycle of office parties, gift giving and other non-work related activities. While definitely a real morale booster for the employees, managers often have a different view. Productivity tends to decline sharply while morale rises in equal increments. No manager wants to be the party pooper in the crowd, but what if any, actions can they take in order for work not to come to a stand still?
1 - Schedule parties in advance. As simple as it seems, year end comes around, well, every year end. There is nothing new and quite frankly, there is no need to re-invent the wheel every year. Start sending out a request for party dates by the end of October. Many companies will have some sort of fall/Halloween party, followed shortly by a Thanksgiving and Christmas bash. Let the staff know that while holiday parties are a lot of fun, work still needs to get done. Let the staff know ahead of time what days are specifically designated as ďfunĒ days. When the day comes, let it be the party day you promised. Donít put a damper on the day.
2 - It's vacation time. Just like summer, end of year holidays are just as busy when it comes to employees taking vacation. Start taking vacation requests as early as possible. Let the employees know the rules for requesting vacation - either first come, first serve or by tenure. If you allow vacation by tenure, donít allow the most tenured employees to hold the best dates hostage. Set a deadline for them to get back to you. If they donít respond, open up the dates to the lesser tenured employees.
3. Send policy reminders. Despite the fact that employees also go through the same policies every year, they have a tendency to forget. If there are year end policies for vacation or sick balances, remind the employees well in advance. This is particularly important if the employee is in danger of losing their earned time. There is nothing worse then an employee who has too much leave time at the end of the year, but canĎt use it because of business needs. By reminding employees early, you avoid the dilemma of being short staffed or an employee losing their "use or lose" leave benefits.
4. Accept it. One of the best things that a manager can do for their own sanity and staff is to expect year end parties. By coming to terms with the fact that there will be lower productivity during the months of November and December, managers can spend the time, enjoying the festivities and connecting with their staff.