December 1, 2015

The Yuletide Yield – productivity tips

It’s that time of year again, when we’re gearing up for Christmas and all that comes with it… presents, parties, shopping, drinking, and re-runs of Only Fools and Horses.

These things are synonymous with the festive period. For employers, however, the festive period is also synonymous with productivity problems.

There is no doubt that the demands and stresses on families at this time of year, and the increased planning and preparation for personal matters related to Christmas inevitably means that staff can be less focused than employers would like. And that’s when employees are actually in work, perhaps completing some last minute internet shopping or the telephone ordering of a Turkey.

At this time of year there can also be a markedly decreased willingness to attend work in the first place.

Bear in mind, purely as a snapshot, that last year over 2,300,000 people in the UK admitted to calling in sick in the immediate aftermath of  Christmas party. And given that productivity is the most significant cost of absence, employers are rightly concerned as this time of year approaches.

Should you forego your Christmas party in favour of productivity?

One reaction, particularly when finances are stretched, is to forego the annual Christmas party. If at all possible, I would advise against doing away with the party completely. Staff will generally have worked hard all year, and the value of a get together cannot be underestimated.

At times when companies may be struggling to implement pay-rises or award bonuses, the human aspect of a party can help to ensure staff that they are nevertheless valued. This is increasingly important when you consider that as we approach the New Year, people tend to make resolutions which may include looking at job or career change.

Replacing good staff can be extremely costly and disruptive, so letting employees know they are important to the organisation at the end of the year can be extremely important in garnering loyalty in the New Year.

Of course, Christmas Parties themselves can create their own problems if not planned correctly.

Dealing with absenteeism at Christmas

For ‘present’ purposes (forgive the festive pun) we are looking at productivity at Christmas. As attendance is the key factor that affects productivity, consider what systems you have in place to monitor staff attendance and punctuality on a general basis?

Do you have anything that can help you interpret and make sense of the data? Do you even collect data relating to attendance and punctuality?

Moorepay’s Time and Attendance software solutions are a cost effective way for employers to not only monitor their staff productivity but also allow HR teams to work far more efficiently in focusing on important tasks, as opposed to dealing purely reactively to absence problems. The simple fact that there is a time and attendance process can render staff less prone to ‘sickies’ and in turn increase efficiency and productivity all year round.

One thing to weary of however, particularly at this time of year when there are flu and sickness bugs around, is the curse of presenteeism.

That is, the member of staff so committed to the cause, or afraid of taking time off, that they attend the workplace irrespective of how ill they are. Commendable though this may be in many respects, care should be taken to ensure that staff members are aware that in circumstances of genuine illness (as opposed to a major hangover) they can reasonably take time off.

There should be adequate talent within the business to allow short term cover for those employees taking time off. This will help to relieve the pressure felt by some that the job won’t get done if they’re absent. If not, there is a risk that otherwise healthy staff could become ill, reducing productivity even further.

The festive period can be a difficult time to be an employer, but in our experience, the key is to be realistic. Employees will inevitably be a little distracted at this time of year. Similarly, there may be the occasional sickie after a Christmas party.

However, if there is in place a suitable system for the monitoring of absence and timekeeping generally, throughout the year, then it can serve to help reduce the effects over Christmas.

If you would like advice on this topic, you can read our employee absence whitepaper or contact us.

By Stuart Morley

Want a round-up of stories like this delivered to your inbox?

About the author

Content