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4 Effective Ways to Motivate Employees During the Busy Holiday Season

4 Effective Ways to Motivate Employees During the Busy Holiday Season
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With the holidays upon us, businesses everywhere will slow or even come to a lumbering halt of eggnog induced inaction. This is good, and it is bad.

Foremost, it is good. Rare enough are the moments of the year when a general sense of compassion and congeniality prevail over nearly everyone. Good tidings are, well, good. But slow-downs reverberate. Organizational slack in December may cause customer delivery problems in January, parts inventory whiplash in February and a cash crunch in March.

Keeping employees motivated during the holidays is like trying to keep a starving person from thinking about food – the distractions are too powerful to ignore. Because of this, it can seem like a losing battle.

Micrel, a company I ran for 37 years, would shut down for two weeks between Christmas and the New Year. Micrel is not alone in this. So many employees travel during the holidays that having enough hands in the office from December 20th through January 2nd can be impossible.

But the holiday spirit starts on Thanksgiving, in later November (earlier if you are in the retail industry and have to wrestle oversized Santa Clause decorations in the back room before the turkey is even thawed). Keeping employees focused and active from then until the New Year is a battle, but a winnable one.

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Here are some ways to motivate employees and keep them focused during the busy holiday season:

1. Remain Passionate About the Mission

If you have done well in identifying and communicating the corporate mission and making it an exciting adventure for all your employees, then this remains your best tool.

In fact, if the work and the mission are engaging enough, holiday activities might come off as being an unwanted distraction to your teams.

The key is not to amp-up the mission. Instead, maintain the cadence of how you communicate and reinforce that the mission is very much worth pursuing. By not letting your employees forget about the common quest, they remain engaged in and excited about it.

2. Differential Bonuses

Some employees must, per their job agreements, work during the holidays. Others do not. Those that do might feel disheartened.

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Though many companies pay a “Christmas bonus” to all employees, some only pay to those working the holidays while other companies pay a high bonus rate to employees manning the ship during break. The goal with the differential bonus plan is to keep those most likely to find distractions and express non-glad tidings within the office.

Alternately, do offer those working the holidays some compensatory time off afterwards.

The point is that removing potential negative reactions to holiday work keeps them from dampening the spirts of other employees.

3. Time the Festivities

There will be office snacks, get togethers, carols and parties. These need not disrupt the 9 to 5 work day.

For small team or department-level events, encourage managers to hold them later in the afternoon as people’s energy and focus tends to fade late in the day anyway.

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For larger, company-wide events, hold them after hours. Involve as few employees in the preparations as possible. This allows everyone to be festive without taking away from their daily duties.

4. Keep the Spirit

Most of all, keep the spirit within you and your managers year-round. Rewriting Dickens a bit,

“Honor the season in your heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

When your leadership is of good spirit year-round, the holidays become less disruptive for they are the nature of your company. And even if your managers do not keep a holiday attitude from January through November, a proper attitude will keep holiday festivities from becoming an overly tempting distraction.

As Scrooge’s partner wailed,

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“Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all my business.”

Make that what your employees experience in between every paycheck, and you can be distraction free all year long.

More Tips to Get Prepared for the Festive Season

Featured photo credit: Kelsey Chance via unsplash.com

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Ray Zinn

Ray Zinn is an inventor, entrepreneur, investor, angel, bestselling author and the longest serving CEO of a publicly traded company in Silicon Valley.

How Do You Measure Success: 10 New And Better Ways Become a Better Manager: 20 Leadership Examples to Inspire Your Team The Secret of Success: 10 Tough Things to Do First 18 Ways to Have Effective Communication in the Workplace 4 Effective Ways to Motivate Employees During the Busy Holiday Season

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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