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Acknowledge post-holiday slump, adjust tasks accordingly
You can call it the “turkey
hangover”—those few days, or weeks, after a holiday when workers head back to
the office and find it difficult to focus.
But many HR specialists say it’s
the pre-holiday time frame when productivity can really suffer. Employees are
balancing shopping, entertaining, holiday events and travel preparations.
And—oh, right—they’re also supposed to be working.
“At the end of the year, people are
ready for a break. That’s when we see productivity slip,” said Jill Havely, the
Americas practice leader for communications and engagement management with Towers
Watson, a global financial services company based in New York City.
Post-holiday times can actually be
very productive. Time off can re-energize workers, according to Bill Driscoll,
New England district president for Accountemps, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing
An Accountemps study looked at the
times of day and days of the week when workers are most productive. It found
that the best time to start a new project is 10 a.m.-12 p.m. on the Tuesday
after a holiday.
Many companies operate on calendar-year
budgets, so this time of year involves not just holiday responsibilities, but also
a sprint to the finish line at work.
Here are some tips for keeping
people engaged during the holiday season:
After the holiday, acknowledge the so-called
turkey hangover for a short while: Give workers a chance to catch up and talk
about their vacations. Driscoll likes the idea of a “Bagel Monday” so people can
Managers make a mistake if they try
to rush people back into work mode.
“Instead of avoiding it, embrace
it,” Jones said. “They need to transition. If you feel shortchanged in that
transition, you end up losing the benefit of what people got from the
He recommended using the
post-holiday time to revisit action plans and talk about the shared purpose and
progress the team is working toward.
Employees at Achievers who are
coming back from vacations don’t have to rack their brains to remember what
they need to focus on. Every day, the company holds a nine-minute meeting (at
11:51 a.m. EST). Different departments rotate hosting the video conference each
day so workers can quickly hear of metrics and other news in each department.
Achievers also uses
quarterly—instead of yearly—goals. So for workers coming back after the first
of the year, having a goal just three months away serves as a worthy motivation.
Tamara Lytle is a freelance writer based in Falls
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