Keep Teams Motivated During The Festive Season

Philip Cleave
December 10, 2020

Timely tips from HR professionals and the experts at SmartSurvey…

We are just over two weeks until Christmas and just under four weeks until the New Year. December can often be a time when employees feel under pressure, have multiple deadlines to meet and are stressed about getting everything finished before the Christmas break.

Which is why our experts here at SmartSurvey have collected their top tips on how to keep staff motivated around this festive period. They also spoke to Marie Hart, Head of HR at Westgate Healthcare and Lars Schmidt, global talent leader and author, to find out their expert advice. Let’s dig in…

Make sure people take their holidays

There are always some people in the office who still have lots of annual leave to take in December. Just because we’re working from home or in different tier restrictions, doesn’t mean people shouldn’t take days off. Encourage employees to take their annual leave to prevent employee burnout.

Organise a Christmas celebration

The annual Christmas party might be cancelled but that doesn’t mean you still can’t celebrate as a team. We’ve all learnt to pivot in 2020 and with some organisation the Christmas party can still go ahead, albeit virtually. Organise gifts to be delivered to your employees or host a virtual wine tasting or even pivot to the 2020 classic, a Christmas Zoom quiz.

Marie Hart, Head of HR at Westgate Healthcare comments: “Our Christmas party is normally one of the highlights of the year, so for our office-based staff, our Christmas party will be turning virtual! We have quizzes, escape rooms and musical bingo planned.”

It’s really important to book out some time to show your appreciation for staff and catch up in an informal setting.

Offer more flexibility

Flexible lunch breaks and starting times are a great way to boost the mood of your employees, especially now the mornings and nights are darker. A longer lunch break gives your staff the freedom to get outside, exercise and spend some time in the daylight.

December can be a busy time for people, from Christmas shopping to watching their children’s assembly to visiting family – offering more flexibility means your employees don’t have to miss out on special family commitments and shows them you trust them.

Consider cutting the working day on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve short, in order to boost morale across the team.

Global talent leader and the author of Redefining HR: Transforming People Teams to Drive Business Performance, Lars Schmidt comments: “This year has taken a toll on all employees. If you’re in a position to do so, consider closing your operations between Christmas and New Year to allow your employees some additional time off with their families. This allows your team to preserve their vacation days and recharge going into the new year.

“If closing the business completely is not an option, considering a split schedule, so you maintain business continuity but still allow your employees to have some days off without depleting their vacation time.”

Marie said: “To enable a good work life balance, we have got the teams involved in planning the rotas over the festive period, rather than us allocating shifts.”

Host a positive end of year review

Regular check ins throughout the year are crucial to make sure your employees are engaged and happy at work. They also create an environment where you can give them recognition for their hard work.

Lars comments: “The shift to remote work was a new experience for many of your employees. The casual connections, conversations, and water cooler recognition is hard to replicate in remote environments.

“For many companies who had no experience with remote working this had a detrimental effect on some of their core practices – including recognition. Recognition is a vital ingredient of healthy and high-performing cultures.”

As many of us can’t be in the office, consider hosting a positive end of year review, as it’s important to make sure staff still feel appreciated. Simply send an email or organise a virtual full team meeting to highlight the wins and successes of the business over the past 12 months, as well as highlight some of the plans and ideas for 2021.

Think about other perks to offer your team

Another way to keep your staff motivated during the Christmas period is to set December targets with rewards and perks, which don’t always have to be a raise or a monetary bonus.

The rewards and perks could include an extra day of annual leave, gift vouchers, a bottle of wine or leaving early one day.

Marie said: “Working in care means there is an element of ‘business as usual’ despite the pandemic, but in recognition of this we are sending handwritten letters and Christmas cards from the Directors to all employees.”

Perks and rewards make your employees feel valued and appreciated and will help motivate them not just in the festive period, but also for the year ahead.

Final thoughts

Employee engagement and motivation can feel tough to maintain during the festive season but it’s all about connecting with your employees on a personal level and thinking on what you can do to make these weeks in work engaging, productive and rewarding. Keeping your employees happy throughout the year, as well as during the Christmas months, is key to running a successful business.


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