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15 Nov 2016
by Iain Thomson

6 tips to boost staff motivation in the run-up to Christmas

“It's the most wonderful time of the year, with the kids jingle belling, and everyone telling you be of good cheer, it's the most wonderful time of the year,” so sang Andy Williams.


But employers across the country usually find that in the run up to Christmas many employees are distracted by the festive period and don’t feel like coming to work, and as a result motivation and productivity levels fall. There are also other employees who are on a final push to achieve their end of year targets and their stress levels are rising.

New research by incentives and rewards provider Sodexo reveals that the main reason for falling motivation and productivity levels is that many staff are winding down before the holidays. Nearly one-third (28%) of respondents of the survey said they were winding down and trying to avoid taking on new work.

The research, which was conducted amongst over 1,000 employees across a range of sectors, also found that a further 25% said that their motivation and productivity levels were negatively affected due to being distracted by stress, and that 15% of employees surveyed were working harder in order to hit their end of year targets.

A lack of employee motivation and productivity at Christmas

What is interesting from the research is that a quarter of those surveyed responded that their motivation and productivity levels were affected by something other than winding down, being distracted by stress or office events, suffering from ill health or working harder to hit their end of year targets.

So what could those ‘other reasons’ be? There are a number of potential reasons for this, which could include:

  • Seeing colleagues and co-workers winding down when they are working hard to meet targets or deadlines can have a negative effect on an employee’s motivation level.
  • Client demands are often reduced at this time of year meaning there is not as much work to do or deadlines to hit.
  • Employees are suffering the effects of burning the candle at both ends, which can lead to reduced productivity.
  • Employees are trying to squeeze in extra things they need to do in the run up to Christmas, such as Christmas online shopping and organising nights out with family and friends, while at work.
  • The reduced number of staff in the office in the run up to Christmas as everyone tries to use up their annual leave before the end of the year can negatively impact motivation levels.

How to keep staff motivated in the run up to Christmas

As workers begin to switch off, office banter increases and motivation can start to wane …here are some ideas for keeping your employees motivated in the run up to Christmas and well into 2017:

1) Offer your employees incentives

One way to keep staff motivated in the run up to Christmas and into 2017 is to offer them incentives. Set them specific Christmas tasks or goals that help drive your business forward and reward them with a festive treat when they achieve them. This could include a team lunch, a bottle of wine or leaving early one evening.

Gift vouchers and gift cards make great incentives at Christmas time as employees can spend these on things such as extra food and drink for the festive period or treat themselves to something nice. If you do offer your employees gift vouchers and gift cards, make sure that you have considered your workforce demographics so that you are giving them something that appeals to them.

2) Show your appreciation to your employees

Reflect back on 2016 and show your appreciation to your employees by saying thank you for their hard work and contributions throughout the year. Receiving recognition at a potentially stressful time of the year can improve Christmas employee motivation and productivity.

You can show your appreciation to your employees by giving them Christmas rewards such as reloadable gift cards, gift vouchers or pre-paid cards. However you decide to show your appreciation it’s important that managers make the Christmas recognition personal, perhaps by holding an informal recognition ceremony and highlighting a particular contribution of every team member.

3) Have some fun

Work shouldn’t just be about work, having some fun can help improve employee engagement and team spirit, and that is especially true at Christmas. Get in the festive spirit in the run up to Christmas and encourage your employees to have a bit of fun. Some ideas include:

  • Decorating the office
  • Running best decorated desk competitions
  • Organising team lunches, whether going out or having a treat delivered
  • Putting on a festive fancy dress day
  • Setting some friendly competitions, such as the best Christmas cracker joke

4) Offer seasonal flexible working

The run-up to Christmas is always busy with family commitments and shopping, so flexible working will be appreciated. By allowing your employees to work flexibly you can help them reduce the stress Christmas sometimes causes and enable to balance their work and personal lives.

You can allow your employees to start late or finish early, take extended lunch breaks to do some Christmas shopping, or work from home so that they can be in for parcel deliveries. Some organisations even go as far as giving employees a Christmas shopping day that needs to be taken in November or December as part of their Christmas employee benefits.

5) Support your employees

If employees have deadlines to meet or are working hard to hit their end of year deadlines provide them with the support they need. It might not help them if Fairytale of New York is playing in the office on repeat so consider what they need from you and find a happy medium between fun and support.

Get managers to work with your employees to recognise when they are most productive and help them manage their workloads by identifying priorities and deciding what needs prioritising and what can wait. Employees may feel a lot of pressure juggling work and family demands and providing the support they need to achieve their goals will improve their motivation and productivity.

6) Look forward

Start 2017 on the forward foot and pre-empt - and perhaps even stop, those January blues by looking ahead to what the organisation and the team want to achieve in the New Year. Managers can spend some time with their team brainstorming how they can achieve their goals for 2017 together, identifying problems and solutions. 

It’s also a great time to promote HR initiatives that will help employees with their New Year resolutions, such as new health and wellbeing employee benefits or financial wellbeing benefits. You can even run your own in-house health and wellbeing campaign to support your employees with initiatives such as help to stop smoking or get fit in the New Year.

Treats and perks can keep staff motivated in the run up to Christmas and now is a good time for organisations in all industries, and of all sizes, to review their end of year recognition and rewards and employee benefits to ensure their workforce is happy and motivated in the run-up to Christmas and into 2017.

Iain Thomson is director of incentives and rewards at P&MM Motivation, part of the Sodexo family. A7C3-1483615283_iainthomson.jpg

This article was provided by P&MM Motivation, part of the Sodexo family.


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