Silly season slowdown alert: Workplace expert reveals ways to focus staff in Christmas lead-up

It may seem like common knowledge, but now there’s proof – a new survey reveals workplaces are expected to record a 38% drop in productivity in the lead-up to Christmas.

And workplace experts are saying businesses need to do more to ensure employees are on track and focused towards the end of the year, which involves dealing with different personality types and addressing them in the best way possible.

The “stresser”, for instance, needs to be handled differently than an employee who feels drowned in too much work.

“The problem of productivity is there all year long, but Christmas just exacerbates those problems,” Primary Asset Consulting managing partner Cyril Peupion told SmartCompany this morning.

“As soon as the Melbourne Cup is over, people are in Christmas mode. People start to wind down, and you can end up feeling less focused.”

The company’s survey found productivity may drop by 38% as staff are distracted by shopping, planning for holidays and even hangovers. That problem will be magnified as employees shop online more than ever before.

Out of those people who claimed to be less productive, 20% of their time was spent on unproductive activities.

Peupion says the solution for productivity involves personality management, which can be tricky for many employers. But improving productivity depends on it.

“You have people who are very stressed, and they’re about to go on a holiday and completely manic. And then on the other side you find people are just drowning in so much work they don’t know what to do.”

The first category is the “stresser”, who suddenly realises they have no plan to meet all their commitments. As Peupion explains, “we all want to do too much and our workload is always likely to be bigger than our capacity”.

Maintaining control during Christmas requires some preparation, he says. “Think quarterly, plan weekly and then act daily.”

“Think quarterly about your priorities, and then organise your week based on those. Then, book time with yourself every day to keep on top of things.”

The second category is the “drowner”.

Peupion says he recently coached an executive in a large Australian firm who had more than 10,000 emails in his inbox. “He just felt like he was drowning,” he said.

The answer is to de-clutter, he says: 85% of what we keep will never be useful again, so get rid of it. Archive your email, de-clutter your desk and reduce task lists.

The third category is the dreamer. They wish they were away from the desk and have simply lost focus.

The answer for this category is to simply reduce interruptions. Book times in the day to focus on specific tasks, and then avoid distractions as much as possible.

“You just need discipline and organisation on a daily basis. You need to make sure you plan your days so that you’re being proactive, rather than just reactive to whatever happens.”

 

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