As Christmas fast approaches and the festive spirit begins to take over, it’s not uncommon for managers and business owners to see their employees take their foot off the gas and put their feet up. Absenteeism can increase and attention spans get shorter as the focus shifts towards the party season and everything that comes with it.

However, some strategic forward-thinking can boost engagement levels and make the Christmas period both productive and enjoyable.

Manage workloads in advance

For many businesses, the last few months of the year are the busiest, and managing heavy workloads while ensuring quality isn’t compromised can be tough. Take time to check your team capability versus workload in advance, not forgetting to factor in any ad-hoc staff holidays and business-related social events.

You can then decide whether you require your team to put in extra hours or take overtime in the run-up to Christmas. Of course, to gain this level of commitment you need to offer some incentives and raise team spirit with the notion that you’re all working towards a clear end goal.

Offer flexible working

If your workplace doesn’t have a flexible working policy in place already, then why not trial one throughout December? 77% of workers admitted that employers who offer a flexible working scheme are more attractive than those that don’t, and 55% claimed it was an essential benefit while hunting for their next job.

How you roll this out will depend upon your business model, but you could offer a work from home day once a week, re-arrange shift patterns or even give staff a Christmas shopping day. So long as the work gets done, it’s a benefit that will be greatly appreciated and effectively costs you nothing.

Reward hard work

The days of the token Christmas bonus are becoming numbered for many businesses, and rightly so. If everyone receives an extra boost in their December pay packet for just turning up, where is the incentive to work? Whether you offer a cash incentive, store vouchers, or some extra holiday, make it clear the reward will only happen if specific targets are met – just make sure they are realistic.

Make the office festive

While naysayers may claim that Christmas office activities are an unwanted distraction, in moderation they can really boost morale and work to your advantage. A tree, decorations, and Secret Santa are seen as the standard by many employees today, are relatively easy to arrange, cost-effective and most importantly, fun.

Try partnering up with a charity that means something to your team and organise a fundraising event, whether that be a mini-marathon or a Christmas jumper and mince pie coffee morning. If your office is largely non-client facing, consider relaxing the dress code too.

 Arrange a memorable Christmas party

Everyone has a different idea of what makes the perfect Christmas party, so try polling your staff to find out what they want, giving them a list of options to choose from. While there’s nothing wrong with a traditional festive set menu, you might want to change things up and go for Thai food and karaoke – whatever it takes to keep your team happy and make them feel rewarded for their hard work in 2017.

Written by Jason Downes, MD of conference call provider Powwownow