Tips for a productive December

Dec 14, 2017


By Lyndsey Hall

Tips for a productive December Knowles Warwick Chartered Accountants Sheffield


With the latest forecast suggesting British productivity will be slow over the next couple of years, now is the perfect time to get some advice on boosting your staff’s output over the festive period.

This week, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) released their predictions for 2018-19, announcing that GDP will grow 1.5% next year, and by 1.3% in 2019. They also predicted that quarterly GDP growth will remain at 0.3% until the end of 2019, which is almost half the average growth rate since 2013.

The sluggish economy and uncertainty surrounding Brexit is expected to impact on business investment as well as household spending. On the bright side, the global economy continues to show strong growth, and this combined with the lower pound will provide exporting opportunities for many businesses.

On a smaller scale, a recent survey by Dropbox has revealed that one in five Brits never work to the best of their ability in their jobs. Of the 2,000 people asked, nearly three quarters said they don’t work to their potential even once a week, and they believe only 68% of their colleagues are good at their jobs. 

Brennan Jacoby, a philosopher at cultural institution The School of Life, which conducted the survey with Dropbox, believes “people have a natural inclination towards laziness and without clear roles and objectives we are drawn towards loafing and free riding”. He thinks “it’s not a lack of motivation causing this, more often it can be a lack of clarity”. 

So, how can you prevent your employees from falling into this rut? Jacoby believes the answer is to “give team members clear roles and responsibilities and the chances are productivity and happiness will rise”.

Interestingly, the survey found that the workers with the highest opinion of their colleagues were those in construction and the emergency services. Dropbox believes this may be a result of the trust required between co-workers in such “safety-critical” industries. It also said the benefits of teamwork are more apparent and clearly understood in these types of roles than other industries where relying on your colleagues isn’t as crucial.

The workers with the lowest opinion of their colleagues, according to the findings, were those in public relations and IT. Those in more senior positions were also more likely to have a lower opinion of their colleagues compared to those in entry-level roles. Managing directors and board-level workers believed only 58% of their co-workers were good at their jobs.

With this in mind, how can you ensure your employees are working hard and maintaining productivity in the run up to Christmas? Here are a few tips you can implement in your office:


Show your appreciation

Christmas is the perfect opportunity to say thank you to your staff and show them a small token of your gratitude for a year of hard work. Employee engagement has a direct impact on business success, so boosting your teams’ morale can have a real effect on your bottom line, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Whether you give every staff member a small gift, treat them to an all-expenses-paid Christmas lunch, or close down over the festive period so your employees can spend time with their nearest and dearest, you’ll give your staff a reason to smile and sing your praises.

If you decide to buy your team a present each, just be aware of any dietary issues, a bottle of wine or box of chocolates may seem like the ideal gift but the gesture could fall flat if you have any tee-total or vegan employees.


Add a healthy dose of competition

This could either be related to your normal working targets, or just a bit of fun to up the festive cheer. Why not offer a prize for the person with the most sales, or who bags the biggest client before December 25th? Alternatively, host an in-office competition to get the teams bonding and working together, helping to improve their cohesion when the focus comes back onto your clients. You could have a competition for the best decorated office with a budget of £5 or £10 per team for Christmas deccies, or challenge your staff to bake the best mince pies. Maybe a Christmas jumper competition is more your style, with prizes for the best and the gaudiest. 

However you decide to challenge your staff, it will get them working together, boost their morale and give them something to chat with their colleagues about through to the New Year. Make the prize something they’ll really want, and you’ll create a drive and determination that will hopefully transfer over to their everyday tasks.


Empower everyone 

If you’ve employed the right people, you don’t need to worry about whether they can do their job, you know they can. Give your teams clear instructions for the weeks ahead, including opening hours (if different to usual), any targets for the month, and when and how you expect to be updated on progress, and then allow them to manage their own workloads and schedules. Don’t fall into the trap of constantly checking to see if they’re falling behind as a result of all the festivities. A weekly staff meeting or email report with current projects and timescales will allow your employees to feel trusted and respected, and keep you abreast of what’s going on. 

Positivity is very powerful, approaching your employees with the preconception that everything is going great will make them feel valued and appreciated, assuming the worst will do the opposite. 


These tips should help you to make sure your business maintains productivity throughout the festive period, simply by showing your staff a little appreciation, trusting them to keep on top of their own workloads and throwing some competition into the mix. It could even give your bottom line a boost! 

Whether December is usually a busy time for you or you’re right in the middle of the quiet period, how do you keep your staff motivated and focused when distractions abound? We’d love to hear from you, leave a comment below or join the conversation on Twitter.


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