Monday, July 2, 2012

Managing Short Work Weeks

It always amazed me when my daughter was in school just exactly how many "holidays" there are; there's an average of one a month with the only months sans holidays being June and August.  I know, some kids may feel June is a whole month of holidays because school's out and parents consider August a holiday because the kids go back to school, but in terms of business, there are no "closed" days in either of those months.  

Since holidays happen so often, why, then, is it so hard to manage around those days?  There's always confusion, lack of productivity and general malaise in the days before and after the holidays, you may as well just shut the doors the whole week.  We can't wait to take the day(s) off and afterward, we can't seem to get motivated to work.  

Dread not, though.  Here are my top 5 tips for ensuring everyone is productive before and after a holiday, while having fun and returning refreshed.

1.  Hold a contest before and after the holiday.

I know - work is work, but we spend so much time working, why not having some fun with it?  Hold a contest that's specially focused on the upcoming holiday.  Some ideas:  
  • Hold a luncheon the day before the holiday and have everyone bring in a dish symbolizing the holiday; best dish wins a gift card.  
  • The week before the holiday, draw the names of two team members to receive the afternoon off the day prior to the holiday.
  • Ask team members to nominate someone else for a gift card to a local restaurant or garden store; both the winning nominee and the person who put their name in then get a card.
  • After everyone comes back, the one who did the weirdest/most fun/most daring thing over the holiday wins a few hours off or a gift card.
2.  Close early.

Whatever you might lose from closing a few hours early the day before a holiday is more than made up in employee morale, great team relations and tighter loyalty to the company.

3.  Work later than your team the day before a holiday.

You can only reap good things when you let folks go early and you stay behind to do their work that one day.  Remember that you're part of the team, too, and showing you respect your team members' time is key to building a strong team.

4.  Insist vacation time is used.

There's nothing worse than grumpy employees who aren't allowed to take all their vacation time.  Time away from work is essential; without it, productivity drops, morale sinks and before long, your whole team is a mess.

5.  Get away yourself.

Now that you've done all you can to ensure your team is happy, make sure you're getting away as well.  You deserve it!  You can't be a cheerleader for your team if you're tired, anxious, grumpy and generally unpleasant because you're burned out.  

Remember that work will always be there after the weekend or the holiday; the biggest way to get the best from your employees and from yourself is to take the time you're due and have fun!