The holidays seem to arrive earlier every year. Before you know it, your employees will be inundated with out-of-town guests, holiday travel, meal planning and gift shopping. Get ahead of the distractions with these tips to make sure your team stays on task for a productive holiday season.
Set Project Priorities
During the holidays, employees may take vacation time in addition to company-wide days off, potentially impacting end-of-year projects. Remember to take time off into account when creating project plans; preparing for those extra days early on will help your team successfully complete projects without added stress. Setting precise and measurable deliverables, especially as we enter the holiday season, will ensure staff members stay productive.
Start planning with your team now to prioritize projects and then break those projects into smaller, achievable tasks with clear deadlines. Employees’ input will be vital in setting realistic, manageable goals. This will help you identify gaps in resources and set your team up for continued success when you get back up and running in January.
Consider Flexible Work Arrangements
Some insurers are still reluctant to implement work-at-home (WAH) or flexible work arrangements, though they’ve become more common. However, even small gestures such as closing the office a couple hours early or allowing your employees to work from home one or two days around the holidays can strongly impact their motivation and morale. Your staff will feel more capable of managing both work and personal obligations, giving them more time to enjoy the season and helping them return to work refreshed.
For organizations that have embraced WAH arrangements, well-defined policies are essential to success. Kids home on school break could be a distraction, for example, but parents can better set physical and time-based boundaries with your help. Drafting guidelines around remote work environments and expected work hours will give your staff the structure they need to maximize productivity. Specific considerations may include your preferred method of communication for quick updates versus more in-depth brainstorms or meetings, how many check-ins you expect per day, and whether your employees should let their managers know when they’ve started their day and when they’re getting ready to log off.
Once essential tasks are prioritized and flexible work arrangements are set, make sure to communicate those expectations and schedules to any involved team members and stakeholders. Overcommunicating during this time will ensure no loose ends are left for the new year. Precise, written communication establishes an accessible record of expectations, but phone or in-person follow-ups are advisable to verify everyone is on the same page. While determining priorities is a necessary first step, straightforward communication is also an essential part of the process; clarity and alignment will ensure coverage for essential day-to-day tasks and a smooth project path.
Overcommunication is important when initially sharing project expectations and creating back-up plans for out-of-office coverage but also extends to team-wide time management. During this process, help your employees learn to accurately communicate their workloads so they can better manage their time and delegate when appropriate. Additionally, ensure your team knows who will be physically in the office, remote or on vacation in the weeks surrounding the holidays. Share each employee’s active work hours and any preferred communication methods so no one struggles to connect while working against the clock.
Plan for Talent Gaps
Even with the best prioritization, flexibility and communication, last-minute demands may arise while your employees are away from the office. After all, insurance needs don’t take days off, even for the holidays! Promote team alignment and cross-departmental collaboration to fill in the gaps, and rekindle your relationships with insurance-focused staffing firms to cover any additional needs. Staffing firms stay connected to skilled talent so they can provide the consultants you’re looking for at a moment’s notice.
Finally, do your best to accommodate employees as they balance work and personal needs. Just as you may be dreading that visit from Aunt Josephine or struggling to find a gift for the neighbor who grabs your newspaper while you’re out of town, your employees also deal with these holiday troubles. It’s up to you to set the tone for work around the holidays, help alleviate unnecessary office stress when possible and of course, to celebrate with your team!