After a productive few months racing against the time to hit our annual goals, we return from a long weekend of family, fireworks, food and football to find our motivation running on empty. As the days get shorter, the weather turns colder and the post-holiday blues hit, workplace productivity drops by close to 12 percent.
5 Cures for Post-Holiday Productivity Slumps
- Revisit your goals.
- Manage your expectations.
- Cancel unnecessary meetings.
- Schedule in a little workplace socialization.
- Provide guidance, but avoid micromanaging.
With your end-of-year deadlines on the horizon, it’s the worst time for heads to droop, but you don’t need to hit the panic button. This isn’t the first post-Thanksgiving doldrums you’ve had to pull your team through. Chances are good that once the gloom clears, they will return to their usual, productive selves, but there are ways you can ensure progress gets back on track sooner rather than later.
Revisit Your Goals
Nobody wants to return from Thanksgiving to a task they’ve been stuck on for weeks with no end in sight. Employees need to see their efforts paying off. If they can’t, they will coast through until the Christmas break arrives.
With the end of the year now in sight, it’s your last chance to evaluate your goals, check on progress and ensure everyone is working towards an achievable target. Now isn’t the time to change your key focus entirely, but encouraging team members to approach a task from a different angle can provide a burst of last-minute productivity as your New Year deadline approaches.
If you aren’t using objectives and key results (OKRs), there’s no better time to start than the present. This popular framework helps teams to define their goals and track their progress. When linked with daily tasks and updated constantly as progress is made, OKRs improve workplace efficiency by 78 percent, which could help you beat the post-holiday slump.
Cancel Unnecessary Meetings
Meetings may seem like an effective way to bring minds back to the office, but the reality is that they’re one of the workplace’s most costly productivity drains. Given that they typically descend into a repetitive recap of who’s doing what, no wonder studies show that 70 percent of meetings get in the way of meaningful progress.
It’s really no surprise that 32 percent of workers have been involved in meetings where an email would have been just as effective or, more so, an OKR. With clearly defined goals assigned to specific teams and individuals, and a platform to keep track of progress efficiently, most meetings become entirely obsolete.
This frees up workers to focus on truly important tasks at a time when productivity doesn’t come easy. All that time saved is far better spent on flow time — where meetings are canceled, emails are muted and notifications are switched off to provide a period of uninterrupted productivity.
Manage Your Expectations
Your team has spent the last four days celebrating with friends and family, in a turkey-induced food coma or following the packed football schedule. It will take time for them to hit their stride again, so give them a break in the meantime. Even when we aren’t returning from a holiday, a recent survey found that most of us are only productive for five hours or less each day. It’s not because we’re lazy. It’s because we’re humans, not machines.
Research shows that downtime during the workday can stave off burnout, stimulate creativity, assist concentration and boost efficiency. That’s not to say you should allow your team to slack off. However, when fatigue hits and progress slows, techniques such as Pomodoro (where a five-minute break follows every 25-minute stretch of focused work) can really help to keep the productivity flowing. There’s really no harm in taking five minutes to watch an insightful video or read an interesting article. Chances are that time wouldn’t be spent productively anyway.
Make Time for Socialization
Undoubtedly, your employees will want to spend the next few days standing around the water cooler discussing how they spent the holidays. This small talk isn’t a bad thing, but something you should actively encourage. Taking a break from the workplace has been found to increase creativity, mood and, subsequently, productivity. Your team will be returning to the office recharged and in high spirits, but with the winter blues looming, team leaders face a battle to maintain the positive atmosphere.
Socialization and team-building activities, whether going for a good meal or taking part in a fun workshop, not only keeps the happy holiday feeling going, but provides a whole host of additional workplace perks. It offers time to talk, providing new ideas and perspectives that help workers to overcome their challenges, encourages problem solving and fosters a sense of camaraderie that can help teams to push through those difficult moments in pursuit of a shared goal.
Give Direction. Don’t Micromanage.
If your team is taking too long to get back up to speed, you might be tempted to exert your authority. However, micromanagement is a sure-fire way to keep the productivity slump going. Of the 59 percent of employees who have had the unfortunate pleasure of working for a micromanager, 68 percent reported a decrease in morale and 55 percent said it stifled their productivity.
Instead of micromanaging, try an outcome-oriented approach that focuses on the final result rather than the steps required to reach it. This is why OKRs are so effective. Every employee understands what is expected of them, but how they go about achieving it is entirely up to them.
Sure, after a holiday break, some employees might need a few days to get back up to speed, but you’ve put together a team of experts that you felt were capable of doing the job. Show them that you trust them to do just that.