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Managing staff in the silly season

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As the holiday or ‘silly season’ approaches, it becomes even more important for employers and management to keep an eye on motivation and productivity levels within their organisations, as employees can sometimes find it hard to focus during this time, owing to the excitement of the holiday season but also owing to fatigue and burn out.

Business owners and management need to remain focused on reaching year-end business goals, while ensuring that employee morale and motivation remains high. This can become slightly more difficult leading up to and during the holiday season.

Here are tips for effective and positive employee management during the silly season:

1. Discuss expectations and set realistic goals

Providing clear guidelines on what needs to be completed by the end of the year or before the company closes will assist in ensuring employees do not lose sight of their tasks and goals. While this will assist with ensuring the business remains productive, it will also ensure that employees are able to manage their time effectively, therefore lowering their stress levels.

2. Discuss leave and closing times/dates with staff

While some companies will completely shut down for a certain period over the holiday season, some companies will remain open and will need skeleton staff or temporary staff. It is important that the employees are aware of the business’ closing dates and times, if there are any, and what the processes and protocols will be for staff over the holiday period. Allowing for planning ahead of this will ensure that employees are aware of their leave and working times, and reduce the number of last-minute cases of absenteeism.

3. Discuss the plans for the year-end function with the staff

While year-end functions are positive for team building and improving staff morale, they can also be gateways to disorderly behaviour. To avoid situations like drinking and driving or sexual harassment issues, which often crop up at year end functions, it is important to brief employees on what the plans are and what is expected of them in terms of behaviour according to what is planned. It may also be a good idea to partner with a service provider like Uber for your functions and include this in the budget for your event, to ensure that all employees and guests are able to travel safely to and from the event.

4. Be mindful of those who do not celebrate Christmas

Employers and management need to be mindful of those who do not celebrate religious holidays like Christmas owing to opposing religious beliefs or personal reasons. Celebrations at the office should be inclusive and considerate, to ensure they are enjoyable for each and every person in attendance.

5. Consider annual reviews and incentives

Initiating annual reviews towards the end of the year is important, as it will assist employees to realise their strengths and weaknesses, and help to guide their planning for 2017 – both personal and professional. Reviews also assist in opening channels of communication between employees and management, for discussion of any important points either party would like to raise. Employees want to feel heard and feel that their opinions and presence matter and are important to the business.

For businesses where it is possible and viable, year-end incentives are also a good way of making employees feel valued, rewarding them for their hard work throughout the year and encouraging motivation for the coming year.

6. Consider flexibility

The holiday season is a quiet time for some businesses, while it is the busiest time for others. Be considerate towards the fact that the holiday period is also a time for many families to spend time together and can become busy outside of the office. Where possible for your business, consider offering your employees flexible hours – whether it is starting later or finishing earlier. Your employees will appreciate this, and it may also assist in decreasing absenteeism during this time.

The way an organisation responds to the needs of its employees during the silly season will have a huge impact on both employee morale and engagement. Management must find new and innovative ways to maintain decorum at the workplace during the silly season, while ensuring employees are happy and the business continues to run optimally.

Lyndy van den Barselaar is MD of workforce solutions provider Manpower South Africa. Her opinions do not necessarily reflect those of IOL.

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