'Tis the Season of Distracted Employees

happy holidays
If you're a commuter this time of year, chances are you're experiencing the good news/bad news of the holiday season. The good news: fewer people on the road. The bad news: those absent commuters are on vacation... and you're not. Yes, employers, it's the most wonderful time of the year; half your employees are heading over the river and through the woods. The other half are distracted employees, wishing they were heading out too. Yet, that shouldn't make the final run up through the holidays feel like a write-off. There's potential here. It's all in how you look at it. It is festivity time, people, Twinkling lights, visions of Norman Rockwell, holidays portrayed in idealistic TV movies... you get the picture.

'Tis the Season of Distracted Employees Embrace It!

You don't have to go the full Whoville, but you should at least nod to the realities of the season and the fact that people may be feeling distracted. Cutting some holiday slack has benefits in things like employees who feel good about their place of employment. That translates to all those buzzwords we throw around all year like loyalty, productivity, and an employer-of-choice reputation that people vie to come work for. So embrace the seasonal spirit and leverage it to create good will for the future.

Good Will to and From All Employee-kind

Inject good cheer

You'd be amazed at the good will born of a little holiday-time-only frivolity. It doesn't have to be pricey think casual days, potlucks, good-natured competitions. Once a year, right before the holiday week, our Bright Horizons home office issues the cube-decorating challenge. It's a silly event that spurs humor, a little rivalry, and all kinds of team spirit.

Think carefully about deliverables

Do not I repeat, do not make a major initiative due January 2. What might sound to you like, "It's after the season is over" will read to your employees as, "You have to work during your holiday." Yes, emergencies happen, and every employee can probably relate a tale about tangling with an unexpected fire drill on some New Year's Eve. But smart employers can turn even those occasions on their ear with things like food and genuine thank yous. Those are the things that ensure the day's remembered as the time the team achieved a miraculous save, not as the night your most valuable players decided to quit.

Recognize and reward the hearty

If you're not closed during the last week of December, that means there may be a bunch of hearty souls who had no choice but to show up. Those are some dedicated people. And skeleton crews tend to lead to low-key atmospheres that are great for innovation. Shelve the typical day-to-day stuff and do something different. Bring in lunch and talk about their lives. The power of those types of connections extends throughout the year and can't be overstated. And if you do it right, some people may even look forward to coming to work during the holidays. Finally, know your audience. Not every company is cut out for company gatherings as evidenced by ongoing debates such as this one a couple of years ago in the New York Times. One company's opportunity is another's obligation. And a party should be a celebration, not an albatross. Know your culture, do what feels right, and celebrate accordingly.   

Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
happy holidays

Subscribe to the On the Horizon Newsletter