As the festive season bears down upon us, business owners find themselves facing a common annual challenge: ensuring their employees are striking a balance between productivity and holiday cheer – all without being labelled a ‘Grinch’.
We all know the feeling: December is speeding by at an alarming rate, attention spans are waning, and pre-Christmas deadlines are mounting. At the same time, offices are awash with distracting festive knitwear, talk of gifts left to buy, and the building excitement of having some time off (something we never really grow out of).
Festive cheer aside, it’s still imperative that your business continues to run smoothly right the way up until the holidays, servicing clients and meeting those deadlines before everybody packs up. Unfortunately, this is made all the more difficult by the drop in productivity commonly found in the run-up to Christmas.
I’d like to share with you some of the tricks I’ve found to work in my personal experience, in the hopes that they may help to reduce the festive stress around productivity and inspire your employees to treat December like any other month – all without giving you a reputation for bah-humbugging Christmas.
Stick to the Plan (Sometimes)
The subheading may seem counter-intuitive, but for followers of Agile, there’s logic behind it. With a team of bespoke software developers in our midst, Kaleida has become a faithful adopter of the Agile methodology of working. This means planning out what our clients want from their bespoke software, working in iterations (sprints), and communicating with them at each stage. This enables our team to be efficient, complete work on time, and accommodate any last-minute changes.
Approaching your pre-Christmas workload in much the same way will empower your team to get their work done and leave some lee-way for any unexpected issues. The best way to start is to list the most essential tasks that need to be completed before the final day in the office – including anything that requires sign off from clients, or which is time-sensitive – and work out the amount of time needed to complete these tasks.
From there, keep communication channels open and have the team conquer these essential tasks first. You’ll quickly find that the workflow is running smoothly and on schedule. And if a client should get in touch with anything else urgent? By checking in with the team and their progress, you’ll be better equipped to allocate some time to the issue, pleasing everybody.
Use Your System
As a bespoke software development house, Kaleida has seen its fair share of businesses opting to take the struggle out of their workflow with a new solution built exclusively for them. If you’ve invested in your own system – be it off-the-shelf or bespoke – it pays to make use of it now, when workflow is most likely to be affected.
While you’re at it, now is also a great time to use reporting functions to prepare for next year, steering your team’s workload towards larger goals, and setting the business up for success in January.
If you’re not the proud owner of a bespoke software solution yet, don’t scramble to procure an off-the-shelf solution so close to the holidays – just take a note of the issues and workflow limitations encountered in the lead up to Christmas and consider investing in a bespoke solution in the new year instead. After all, you don’t need anything else on your plate this late in the game.
Reward the Hard Work
As business owners, we all find enjoyment in rewarding our staff, and at Christmas that usually translates into a raucous outing that leads to more than a few sore heads the morning after. But with rising venue costs and scheduling conflicts, more and more businesses are moving their Christmas festivities earlier in the season.
The trouble with this is that the reward has come before the work, and it can often disrupt the weeks following the event. Instead, consider following in the footsteps of other business owners by hosting a late Christmas event in January to reward everyone for their hard work. If that’s not possible, create an incentive on the last day to keep employees engaged all the way up until it’s time to clock off.
Although offering staff a festive treat might seem juvenile to some of you, there’s very simple psychology behind it: they will stay encouraged and focused if there’s a reward at the end, and as Christmas approaches, the carrot approach definitely seems the most appropriate.
Last, but by no means least, I’ve learnt that it’s essential to communicate your expectations with your employees. Be sure to also include what you’re doing to contribute in the conversation to show that everybody is working towards the same goal together, and let clients equally know your expectations for them signing work off and paying on time.
We can understand that it’s an exciting time of year, but as business owners, we must also protect our business’ interests during the festive season. Hopefully, what I’ve shared from my own experiences will be of some use to you and your team on the home stretch to Christmas. Best of luck!
Kaleida provides businesses with bespoke software solutions, helping to improve workflow, overcome challenges, and deliver more effective services. If you’re interested in investing in a bespoke software solution in 2018, be sure to get in touch with our team, or feel free to explore our website to find out more.