Submitted by: Ildikó Oravecz, CPT, Coach, Consultant, and Member, ISPI

Ah, tis the season! Beginning in October with Halloween ghosts and ghouls, until the pop of champagne bottles and the burst of confetti and streamers in January, these months are filled with celebration.

And naturally that celebration spills over into our work lives and can lead to distractions. How can you keep your employees focused while there are so many things competing for their attention? Here are a few ways to ensure your employees keep on keepin’ on:

• Specify times for celebration. Try to coordinate all the departmental celebrations and holiday gatherings to a specific day and time. I’ve worked in organizations where you can float from party to party and potluck to potluck over several days and get nothing done. You don’t want to stifle celebration; just schedule it. Communicate early with employees so that you set clear expectations in advance. And remind them of your organization’s policies and procedures for decorating and gift giving.

• Encourage breaks. When the days are short and dark, energy can wane. Encourage employees to take short breaks–especially in the late afternoon–to get moving and get some fresh air. And if there are lots of baked goods and snacks being brought in, you can expect a mid-afternoon slump as the sugar high begins to fade. There are lots of great apps employees can use to remind them to stop and stretch on a regular basis, and to stand up and get some movement.

• Have realistic expectations. This is not the time of year to start working on new projects or introduce new initiatives. Many employees take time off to be with family during this time of the year, and you may be operating with a smaller workforce at times. Focus on maintaining, rather than building, as much as you can to ensure your expectations are reasonable.

• Create systems for accountability. Review your project timelines and deliverable dates and ensure that they are realistic for this time of year. And if you don’t already have systems in place for accountability, consider using weekly check-ins to help employees stay on track with timelines and deliverables.

Remember, while you may not have 100% productivity from all employees at all times during the holiday season, your commitment to embracing the holiday spirit means you will win the trust and loyalty of your employees. And a leader who has the trust and respect of his or her employees is a leader who gets the most out of their team. Your employees will be motivated to work harder for you in the future. Consider this time an investment in your employees’ lives that you will reap throughout the rest of the year. And as 2016 gets underway and you need a refresher on these tips, don’t hesitate to join me at The Performance Improvement Conference 2016, April 10-12 at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel. Visit www.ispi.org for more information!

Ildikó Oravecz, CPT, is a coach, consultant, and member of ISPI, who is passionate about improving performance in the workplace and equipping leaders to maximize their employees’ potential.