Friday 20 December 2019 10:43 am

Beware the annual workplace Christmas click-off

Dr Camille Hogg is a copywriter at Peakon.

The closer we get to the holidays each year, the more festive — and less productive — we feel at work. It’s a feeling that gets to even the most dedicated of employees. 

With tinsel adorning hallways and mince pies appearing on every desk, excitement begins to bubble and motivation begins to wane. Staff leave early, ready to indulge in seasonal revelry, family events, or shopping ahead of the big day.

The name of this phenomenon? The “Christmas click-off”. 

Although employees may still have been putting in the hours at work this month, the reality is that half of the UK workforce now report a plummet in productivity throughout December as they start to wind down for the holidays. 

The result? Millions of pounds potentially lost by companies that fail to address this shift in mindset.

The December decline

We examined data from 4,000 UK employees, and more than half expected their productivity to wane by 18 December — three quarters will have clicked off by today. And seven per cent admitted that they begin to succumb before December even starts.

When we analysed this behaviour by age group, we found that younger employees are likely to click off earlier. By 12 December, over a third of those aged 18 to 34 expected their productivity to decline as a result of distractions during the festive season, rising sharply to nearly half by 15 December.

It is obviously too late to combat the Christmas click-off this year, but what about next December? How can companies tackle this trend, and what steps can they take to keep employees motivated during the dying days of the year?

A switch in focus is key

First off, it’s vital not to focus too much on the negative aspects of the festive season. Instead, be mindful of the huge efforts that employees have put in across the whole year. So be sure to turn seasonality into something positive.

Giving recognition to employees for the hard work that they’ve done is key. Cards, gifts, awards, and parties are a great way to show that they are valued, respected, and an integral part of the business’s success. This can even encourage a last burst of productivity in the final weeks. 

Showing that you acknowledge and understand the pressure that people face at this time of year is important too. Consider introducing policies like flexible working to give employees the time they need to balance work and family life before the holiday season.

Above all, consider changing the kind of work that people do at the end of December. More of the same makes a dip in productivity more likely and severe. 

Explore setting up sessions to reflect on what teams have learned over the last 12 months and to spark new ideas for the year ahead. 

Try focusing on projects or personal development activities that individuals have wanted to attempt all year but haven’t been able to. Allocating time and resources now means that they can end the year on a high. 

A festive farewell

The Christmas click-off, although frustrating, is something that all leaders need to acknowledge and plan for — for employees and themselves. Accepting that it won’t be business as usual in December is the first step towards finishing the year with a bang for all. 

After all, the Christmas period is a time when many employees put the brakes on. Businesses need to understand this and let people rest. They’ll return to work recharged, more productive, and more creative in the new year.

Main image credit: Getty

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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