4 Ways to Inspire Top Performance During the Holidays

It always feels like the holidays show up out of nowhere, rolling down the hill as if they are a giant snowball at the speed of light. Before we know it, we’re knee deep in snow and belly deep in cookies and eggnog. This fevered pace is reflected in our workplaces too.

Work around the holidays can be either terrifyingly busy or slower than ever imaginable. For employees in retail, the market during the holidays is at a record high and only projected to rise further in coming years – which can cause burnout. For people in the restaurant business who rely heavily on summer tourist traffic, business can be tough to hold onto- which can cause disengaged employees.

Find a middle ground with these performance management tactics this holiday season.

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Employees want to have the ability to take time off to see their friends and family, and relax during the holidays. First, send out a memo, hold a meeting, or print off a list of times your organization will be closed during the holidays. When this memo is sent out, encourage employees to ask HR for their contracted time allowed off. If employees need to get time requested off by a certain time, make sure this is clearly communicated.

It’s expected working hours are going to be spotty during this time so don’t make employees feel guilty or scared to request time off. In fact, Elizabeth Scott, Wellness Coach & Author stated “high-stress times with no down time” as one of the larger factors that create burnout among employees.

To avoid burning out your teams, be reasonable and open to negotiate time off.

To do: Make it a point to bring up asking for time off in every weekly meeting from October on (or on the company intranet). Not only will this make scheduling easier for you, it will help newer employees understand the time off policies and how you grant time off.


Whether end of the year performance reviews happen in your organization or not, sit down with employees to have a short and informal “goals” meeting. While informal, having a one-on-one conversation between leadership and employee establishes the importance of end of the year goal setting.

Andrew Jensen, Business Efficiency, Growth & Marketing Consultant said:

“You cannot expect employees to meet expectations that have not been clearly explained; nor can you hold them accountable for failing to complete objectives that have never been explicitly outlined.” 

At the beginning of the year, you can circle back to these end of the year goals, see if they were met and discuss what could have done better if the goal wasn’t quite met. This gives employees something to be accountable for through the end of Q4.

To do: Don’t have time to meet with all employees at once? Instead, make it a fun activity for each department or team to work on. Send out an email asking them to identify their top 3 professional goals for the coming year and discuss them at team meetings or in one-on-ones after the new year.

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The beginning of the year is a notorious time of year to set up resolutions, which gives employees a justification to coast through the end of the year- “It will all be readjusted and realigned in the new year!” we think. Reinforce company organizational guidelines to ensure deadlines are still being met, assignments are properly turned in, and things aren’t getting lost in the shuffle and holiday craze.

All of these end of the year reinforcements and reminders can be easily communicated in a company intranet like Bitrix24, Yammer, or Slack. Use these intranets to send reminders about days off and motivate employees to meet deadlines before signing off for the long weekend.

To do: Implement a checklist system. Nothing is simpler than identifying work for the week and crossing it off. While not everyone will love the system, most will find it liberating to start fresh every day or week, depending on your system.


There are a couple things you can do to encourage holiday spirit. First of all, allow decorations (within safety guidelines) or even assign the event coordinator (if one is at your disposal within the company) and have them decorate common areas.

Another great way to get involved in holiday cheer is to volunteer time, money or donations. This is especially appealing to today’s workforce:

● 94% of employees said volunteering improves their overall mood (relieve some holiday buying stress).

● 96% of employees said volunteering enriches their life with a sense of purpose.

● 78% of employees said volunteering helps lower their stress levels.

● 76% of employees said volunteering makes them feel healthier (to help fight all that holiday munching!)

Find an easy volunteer opportunity for the whole office to participate in as time allows. If you’re a larger corporation, assign managers to pick a volunteer opportunity for all their departments to do together. Holiday giving is among one of the greatest aspects of the season- join in and see for yourself with Charity Navigator to find giving opportunities near you.

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To do: Make sure to select your giving or volunteer opportunity carefully. Working at a restaurant and then serving at a soup kitchen may be a little too much for your team. Instead find something that complements their skills and schedules.

Friendly reminders to stay within company organizational guidelines, communicating time off policies, and encouraging company-wide volunteering are all efficient ways to keep performance at its highest for the holidays all while joining in the holiday cheer.

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