Surviving the Silly Season

Sarah Somerset
November 15, 2017

Somehow, it’s November already. Many people are tired, and stressed about fast-approaching deadlines, as organisations endeavour to get everything done before Christmas. They’re looking forward to a break, but maybe not to the looming madness of functions, big-ticket spending and hosting extended family.

With these heightened pressures in mind, it is well worth turning our thoughts to implementing strategies to help everyone avoid end-of-year pitfalls and ensure a smooth and positive transition into 2018.

1. Take time out to rejuvenate

The majority of the Australian workforce will take a break from work at the end of the year, in order to enjoy a well-earned rest, partake in religious or cultural festivities, spend time with family and friends, enjoy the good weather, look after children on school holidays and/or travel. As a result, many businesses are required to operate with skeleton staffing arrangements from the Christmas break until well into January.

While this places an understandable strain on those in charge of ongoing work scheduling, it is important to remember that allowing staff to make the most of this natural pause in the annual calendar will only strengthen our organisations overall. If our staff can recharge their mental batteries and take care of their physical health during this time, engagement and productivity will be boosted as a result.

Managers are encouraged to:

  • Make a realistic assessment of what activities and output are possible and reasonable over the holiday period;
  • Reduce pressure on staff by managing customer/stakeholder expectations accordingly;
  • Ensure that holiday rostering is undertaken in as fair and collegiate a manner as possible in the circumstances; and
  • Encourage all staff who have not taken leave during the year to take a break.

2. Take time to reflect and celebrate

As 2017 draws to a close, it is important to review and celebrate our collective achievements. December therefore offers an invaluable opportunity for managers to gather staff together and:

  • Recap the progress that’s been made during the year;
  • Offer congratulations for successful outcomes;
  • Recognise outstanding individual and team contributions (e.g. with awards or rewards); and
  • Thank people for their hard work, contribution and support.

In terms of work Christmas functions themselves, they are typically festive and happy milestone occasions that allow us to relax and enjoy our co-workers’ company before finishing up for the year. It is important however to ensure they are enjoyable for all staff. To that end, we suggest remaining mindful of the following matters:

  • The consumption of alcohol at Christmas parties is no excuse for disrespectful, unprofessional behaviours. It is worth reminding staff of your policies around acceptable behaviour, and that these policies continue to apply during such occasions;
  • ‘Secret Santa’ gifts should never be the cause of embarrassment or concern;
  • Not everyone celebrates Christmas, although people typically understand that they live in a society where it is customary to do so; and
  • The holiday season can be a time of heightened emotions for those who have experienced loss or grief, and they may require support and understanding accordingly. If you offer a staff counselling service, remind your staff of this entitlement and how to access it.

3. Consider opportunities for improvement

Just as the New Year offers each of us the chance to re-evaluate, change and progress as individuals, it is also an opportune time for us to consider what we stand for and have to offer at an organisational level.

Is our workplace positive, principled, fair and safe for everyone? Are our managers constructive and supportive? Do our staff enjoy coming to work each day?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then it might be advisable to consider implementing one or more of the following initiatives early in the New Year:

  • Clear articulation of the organisation’s vision and culture;
  • Conscious review and alignment of all internal policies and systems (particularly reward systems) to reinforce values;
  • Consistent demonstration of positive behaviours and support by ‘skilled-up’ managers;
  • Regular tracking of organisational performance via staff (and customer) feedback;
  • Ongoing education to deepen insight into personal values, beliefs, styles and impact;
  • Promotion of an organisation predisposition towards positive reinforcement;
  • Designing jobs or staffing projects to capitalise on people’s strengths and passions; and
  • Introduction of initiatives to increase fun, teamwork, social integration and co-operation (e.g. daily booster breaks, mentoring circles, internal ‘lunch and learn’ sessions, quiz games, a staff picnic or BBQ, a family day or partner dinner).

And don’t forget, sometimes it’s the little things that count.

In our experience, organisations that achieve sustainable behavioural change appear to have pursued small, simple actions and executed them persistently and with determination, across the organisation, from top to bottom, and over time.

Free Webinar

Join Grevis Beard, Co-founder and Director, as he discusses the best way to navigate the silly season so that all of your employees can have a safe and relaxing end to the year. Register now to attend Worklogic’s free webinar “Surviving Silly Season” on Thursday November 23, 2017 at 12.30pm.

About Sarah Somerset

Sarah SomersetSarah Somerset is Worklogic’s Investigations Officer, focused on supporting our investigators in project management, the analysis of claims and reporting findings. Sarah has significant experience in legal, consulting and HR roles in mid-large Australian companies.

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