The Great Christmas Click-Off 2017: Productivity Plummets as Business Slows and Burn-Out Kicks In

James Young
The Great Christmas Click-Off 2017: Productivity Plummets as Business Slows and Burn-Out Kicks In

If you’ve already turned the Bublé up to eleven and started adding mince pies to your shopping basket, there’s no need to hold back – you are definitely not alone. As it turns out, the majority of us have already begun to embrace the festive season. 

At Peakon we’re always keen to understand how external factors influence the way we work, so we wanted to answer a few questions: what are the biggest distractions that we face over Christmas, when do they start to kick in, why are we prone to them, and how are they impacting businesses? We surveyed 2000 UK workers to find out a little bit more.

For most of us, the distractions of Christmas begin in November 

An overwhelming majority (61%) admit to Christmas distractions filtering to their daily routines before the start of December.

So why is it that we’re finding it hard to focus?

From feeling burnt-out to being too overcome by excitement, there’s a few reasons we might not be quite as productive as we could as the 25th approaches.

However, reassuringly, the largest factor appears to be the natural decline in activity that many businesses experience during Christmas trading (with the exception of retail and the Royal Mail).

Burn-out building at the end of year


While men and women are similar in their reasons for a dwindling attention span, there are a few differences among age groups. 25-34 year olds are more likely to be experiencing burn-out in the festive run-up, compared to those aged 18-24 and over 65.

Lively Londoners!

Those in the capital are struggling to contain their excitement – and they also claim to be following the lead of senior staff. Here’s why we’re feeling distracted according to where we live.

So what are we doing instead?

From shopping online to social media, we’re all a little guilty of letting the distractions get the better of us. We’re only human. Here’s how it’s manifesting in our workplace behaviour.

Gender differences?

It turns out, we’re not so different after all – with men and women equally as likely to lose focus in similar ways. The one exception is drinking, with men twice as likely to take advantage of a festive sherry, port or eggnog at the workplace.

The temptation of a tipple

The younger you are, the more likely you are to be planning your Christmas day or next year’s holiday. And if you live in the East, you’re probably working your way through your Christmas present shopping list.

Productivity takes a hit in the final week

So how do all these factors impact businesses? As it turns out, 15% of us feel our productivity levels are already affected by 1st December. However, the decline in productivity really becomes palpable on 18th December, by which time 57% of us feel we’ve taken our foot off the pedal.

This easing up and slowing down is inevitable, especially since many employees will be juggling the stresses of Christmas logisitics, along with shorter days and several months since summer without a break. What can companies do to lessen the impact of the Christmas click-off? Here are five simple tips for preventing a premature dip in productivity, and for making the most of the lull.

5 tips for keeping your team engaged over Christmas

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

It’s fair to say that most of us feel distracted in the final week, especially the last day before Christmas, so there’s little use in forcing people to sit down and work hard. Make sure deadlines are set for earlier on, 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! 

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