How to ease the Christmas chaos

Festive preparations getting in the way of work? Here are some tips to help you stay on the ball

Make a to-do list to help you balance the responsibilities of work and family without stress. Photo / Thinkstock
Make a to-do list to help you balance the responsibilities of work and family without stress. Photo / Thinkstock

It's that time of year again. So much to do. The Christmas feast to plan, cards to mail out, biscuits to bake, gifts to buy, presents to wrap and guests to entertain.

It's enough to distract the most conscientious of employees from their In-trays - and bring out the bah-humbug in the kindest of office managers.

But even if you try to be discreet about it, chances are managers can sense who's slacking and who's not.

In a survey by American-based staffing services firm Accountemps, 34 per cent of senior managers found their employees to be "somewhat" or "much less" productive the week before Christmas.

This is the period when people look at taking time off, according to Andrew Sassaman, a manager with Robert Half International, a specialised staffing company.

That doesn't mean that the holiday season, work-wise, has to be as dreary as a replay of Jingle Bells. There are ways to keep the time festive without it becoming a drag on productivity, Sassaman says.

He offers some tips to employees - and employers - to keep the holidays a jolly time of the year in the office:

Be organised. Just like Santa, make a list on what must be done, what deadlines must be met and the steps needed to accomplish both.

"People have a tendency to lose focus during the holidays.

Because so much else is going on, keeping lists keeps you on task for the holidays," Sassaman said.

Tie up loose ends. Don't push off work and disappear simply because you have a lot to do around the holidays. If you're taking time off, find a co-worker who can cover for you while you're gone and offer to do the same for another co-worker who is going on vacation. And if you're going to be away, make sure your voice mail and email alerts clearly reflect that.

"No matter what happens, work still needs to continue. You don't want to be that employee who just leaves and abandons work," Sassaman says.

Check the events calendar twice - and purge some of it. When it comes to festivities, Sassaman recommends that employees be selective in deciding what parties, family gatherings, concerts or other holiday events to attend. Trying to do all of them "can be overwhelming", he says.

For managers, Sassaman offers this advice:

Don't be a scrooge. While employees have work to do, managers need to be flexible with them, remembering that the holidays are a time for family and friends.

"It's important to have these distractions around the holidays," Sassaman says. "It's important to have something outside of work. You don't want work to be your entire life."

He recommends that managers spread some Yuletide cheer themselves by awarding achievement and hard work with gift cards or some other form of recognition. "It can help keep people on task during the holidays," he says.

And try not to do things that will "get you noticed in a bad way".

Workers who spend all their time rockin' around the Christmas tree when they should be working might want to remember that 'tis also the season of lay-offs, as employers here take stock and plan for the year ahead.

- SNS

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 23 Jul 2014 16:36:47 Processing Time: 719ms