If you and your team are working over the Christmas period, here are some essential ideas, tips and tricks on how you can keep your staff motivated over the festive season, when all they want to do is be with their friends and family.

  Be Fair

Whether you allocate work over the festive season on a rota basis or everyone is in because the deadline is too important to miss; it's important to always remember to be fair to your team.

If you operate in an industry, like retail, services or leisure, which sees this as a peak in yearly trading, make sure not to (even unintentionally) favour certain employees when it comes to who has to work which hours.

By all means, ask which staff want to work as much as possible over the festive season, but other than that, everyone should get an equal amount of time off with their loved ones.

In construction and manufacturing, the traditional Christmas shutdown is showing signs of disappearing, due to many things such as economic pressures. But not showing some leeway and understanding with your staff, especially whose other halves are more than likely off on leave, can have knock on effects as we enter the New Year.

Being unfair at this important time of the year will be remembered and before you realise it, you could be looking at a staff retention problem.

Be Realistic

With all the will in the world, whether it's because they are thinking about what fun their children are currently having with visiting relatives, or because they are still feeling the effects of last night's celebration with friends; your staff might not be operating at 100mph for the full festive period.

There are a lot of domestic demands on employees at this time of year - and not just financially - so stresses can be high and morale potentially low. Expecting your teams to work at full tilt from the first minute until the last is unrealistic.

Accept you will need to cut a little slack, and both sides should be happier with the working environment and therefore produce better results.

Use The Carrot - Not The Stick

Not that you should let productivity grind to a halt, of course. Though, in terms of motivational tools, it's better to use the carrot as opposed to the stick, and especially at Christmas and New Year.

Just in the exact same way as being unfair in allocating work and shifts will be remembered when it comes to employees getting their heads turned by pastures greener at another company, a boss who uses the stick as a motivational tool when 'tis (supposed to be) the season of goodwill  won't be looked upon favourably.

Putting aside the low morale issue it will create - which it will - you won't be able to motivate staff to produce the results you want during this period, anyway. So the whole idea becomes counter-intuitive on two counts.

Secretly plan some slack into the work programme so you can tell your team, "Actually, that can wait until tomorrow. Get yourselves off." Or reward their hard work during the season of relaxation with little treats such as a free lunch or a drink after work on the company's tab, providing they get that little job done on time.

Ensure Delayed Rewards

If that isn't practical or your team wouldn't be motivated by smaller instant rewards, then make sure that some sort of repayment is given in the future.

This could take the form of a small bonus on their payslip or even an increased rate for working unsociable hours. Or it could be some form of time off in lieu to be taken before the end of January.

Either way, the knowledge that the reward for working throughout the festive season should keep staff going as they will know you and the business appreciate their dedication.

Give A Little Gift

A physical representation of that appreciation can go a long way. A simple but effective way to do that will be to provide your team with some new, warm clothing. Especially for when the weather turns in the coming couple of months into the New Year.

A branded fleece, jumper or base layer, which staff can wear to keep warm, will show those who already wear a uniform that you appreciate this isn't the ideal time to be working; and if your staff don't currently wear a uniform but it's something you are thinking about, it will sow the seed for implementing a new uniform later into next year.