It’s 10am, 19th December – the Monday morning sales meeting. You’re met with more mumbles, hunched-shoulders and rolled-eyes than usual. Why? Over half your team have already “clicked off” for Christmas.
Friday 16th December is the day of the Great Christmas “Click Off” – the point when productivity will plummet, as weary staff turn their thoughts towards the holidays.
We surveyed 3,000 workers and asked them to identify when the festive period would start to impact their productivity. 54% admitted they would become distracted more than a week in advance of the Big Day.
Perhaps most shocking of all was the finding that 12% of employees will have already started to wind down before December has even begun.
“Christmas seems to be starting earlier every year,” says Dan Rogers, co-founder of Peakon. “When I started my career 15 years ago, we were lucky if we got a half day on Christmas Eve. Now it appears the whole week ahead of Christmas is a productivity write-off, and in many cases, the next week is too.”
“Part of this is commercialism impacting the workplace. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now big events in the UK. Christmas is starting earlier every year because businesses want to profit from an extended festive season. The irony is they might be losing money on lost staff productivity.”
Though 16th December is the date when un-focused workers will become the majority, there is cause for concern even earlier. 26% of workers predict they won’t be fully-focused past Friday 9th December.
Fridays tend to be the final day of full-productivity for many employees. The data shows more people “click off” for Christmas towards the tail-end of each week. Employees may arrive to work on Monday with the best intentions, but they find it increasingly difficult to maintain focus as the weekend approaches.
This trend is bucked in the final week. Thursday 22nd December shows the largest spike in employee disinterest, with an additional 18% of the workforce “clicking off” at the end of the day. Only 7% of respondents say they will be maintaining focus on the final Friday before Christmas.
“It would be in everyone’s best interest if we stopped bringing Christmas forward – before we start celebrating it in summer clothing – but fighting against the trend is likely futile.” Dan Rogers added.
“The best thing to do is to recognise this productivity down-time and use it in other ways. For instance it’s a great opportunity to do team activities, donate your employees’ time to charity, or work on creative and fun ideas that you might not have had time for earlier in the year.”
MILLENNIALS “CLICK OFF” EARLIER THAN OLDER GENERATIONS
A deeper look at the data shows that younger workers will “click off” sooner.
18-24 year-olds are the earliest to report a decline in productivity. On Monday 12th December, more than a third will already be distracted by the festive season, and by the start of the final week that figure will have increased to two-thirds.
25-34 year-olds are similarly disinterested. 56% of the age group expect to be unable to maintain concentration during the final week.
In contrast, older generations report maintaining focus further into December. Just over half of those aged between 35 and 54 say they will start the final week with typical levels of productivity, as will 60% of workers aged 55 and over.
“There’s definitely a generational gap in Christmas expectations at play here,” says Dan Rogers. “Older generations are accustomed to treating the majority of December just like any other working month.”
“Millennials, on the other hand, have grown up with festive events and deals starting in early November – it’s no wonder they’re coaxed into winding down for Christmas so early on.”
5 EASY TIPS TO KEEP YOUR WORKFORCE ENGAGED OVER CHRISTMAS
To ease the impact of the Great Christmas “Click Off”, Dan and the team have put together 5 simple pieces of advice for HR leaders and line managers to keep in mind over the festive period.
1. Hold your Christmas party later in December
Christmas parties are a great way to increase staff morale and thank them for all their hard work over the year. However, an early “blow out” only helps to reinforce an early “click off”. If you can, save the festive disco and mulled wine for a final-week treat.
2. Shut the office between Christmas and New Year
The week after Christmas is a dead time for productivity anyway. If people know they have the luxury of an extended break coming up, they will find it easier to keep themselves motivated through the festive period.
3. Have fun on the final day
Our survey showed that over 90% of employees were not expecting themselves to be productive on their last day before Christmas, so there’s little use in forcing them to sit down and work hard. Make sure deadlines are set for the previous day, and reward your staff with a relaxed atmosphere or a trip to the pub instead.
4. Spend time on creative brainstorms and micro-projects
Throughout the year we often come up with interesting ideas that are difficult to justify at a time when other work needs to take priority. The December lull is the perfect opportunity to resurrect these with the team, and use distracted and wandering minds creatively.
Hack-days, where developers are given the freedom to go off on tangents with their own curiosity, are increasingly common practice in tech companies and startups. Larger businesses would benefit from adopting this ethos, and Christmas is the perfect time to give it a go!
5. Don’t hold your annual review in November
Firstly, annual reviews are an outdated process and we are the biggest advocates of more frequent feedback between employers and employees. But if you do still hold an annual review, don’t schedule it for November. This can result in complacency and disillusionment in the months afterwards
As tempting as it is to say “we’ll re-evaluate this in the new year”, by doing so you run the risk of losing four weeks of clear direction. Be sure to set your staff achievable objectives to complete before January – this will maintain their sense of purpose before the Christmas break. But let’s be honest, this type of feedback and goal-setting with employees should be happening all year!