The Christmas crunch

Your staff are your business – and they have long memories. Now is not the time to cut back on showing them they are appreciated. NAOMI SIMSON

Naomi Simson

By Naomi Simson

I was rushing to a meeting yesterday in the Sydney CBD – and I was waiting at the pedestrian lights to cross the road. Three people in suits and in their mid 30s were having an animated conversation – they had just left the building on our right.

Person One said: “We should be paid overtime for the amount of work we are asked to do.”

Person Two responded: “That’s what our Christmas bonus is for – to cover all the extra time we put in.”

Person Three bemoaned: “Problem is no one is going to get Christmas bonuses this year.”

The lights changed and they hurried off. I wanted to walk into their employer and tell them what I had just heard. To ask “do you know how you are being talked about? Do you know how demotivated your people are, and that they are thinking it is just long hard hours from here on in? How do you think they are going talking with customers in that frame of mind?”

Even in tough times people still have a choice. Organisations want to keep their A graders, and have them as productive as possible. To get them to give their discretionary effort. I have blogged about it before.

I got to my meeting and in the general chit chat before the agenda commenced, one of the participants commented that his business was still performing well; in fact they had had an uplift in some of their service lines.

He then announced that they had cancelled the Christmas party. “Why?” I asked. He responded: “It simply would not look good – us having fun when there are other people who are not tracking that well.” I asked: “Why not just down scale – but still do something.” He responded: “Because once we paid the cancellation fee of what we had booked – we wouldn’t have saved any money anyway.”

Go figure…

At the end of the meeting another person commented that in the past five years he had almost never seen his MD. In the last five weeks his MD has been “rushing around like a headless chook”. He continued: “All he’s doing is making everyone else panic; my people are all now so concerned they are almost too paralysed to operate and get on with their work.”

I thought to myself “as the leadership team goes, so goes the rest of the organisation” (said that before a few times too).

Panic and drama result in more panic and drama. People are looking for steady and balanced leadership. Stick to the plan, deliver on the plan – no knee jerk reactions.

Christmas is fast approaching. It is the time to make people feel special, to honour their contribution, to notice what they do. And to celebrate what was achieved.

People won’t mind if what you do is smaller, less expensive. But doing nothing is not an option. It is a long time until next Christmas… and your people have long memories, and now is the time you want more from them than ever before…. so please Don’t Crunch Christmas.


Naomi is a finalist in the 2008 Australian HR Awards and the 2008 Telstra Women’s Business Awards, winners to be announced end 2008. Naomi was also a finalist for the BRW Most Admired Business Owner Award in 2008 and Marketing Employer of Choice by B&T in 2007. One of Australia’s outstanding female entrepreneurs, Naomi regularly entertains as a professional speaker inspiring middle to high-level leaders on employer branding, engagement and reward and recognition. Naomi writes a blogand has written a book sharing the lessons from her first five years.

To read more Naomi Simson blogs, click here .


Are you planning to tone down the Christmas celebration this year? Take the SmartCompany poll here.



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