Halloween decorations and candies are already ubiquitous in stores. That means Thanksgiving and the various December religious holidays aren’t far behind. What tricks and treats do you have lined up for your employees to help them manage the frequently conflicting personal and professional priorities that arise during the holiday season?

Offering up flexible work options and other productivity-boosting measures well in advance of the holiday season has a couple of huge organizational benefits. First, employees will be more focused, industrious, and engaged with the ability to exercise a little extra control over their own destinies during that overcommitted time of year. Second, leaders can manage scheduling and workload proactively rather than haphazardly when forced into fire drill mode by unanticipated absenteeism and other erratic actions taken by conflicted staff. 

Here are a handful of goodies to consider:

1. Flexible days/hours. As long as high-quality and timely results are still delivered, let people modify their hours as needed to allow them freedom to attend the kids’ holiday play, finish gift shopping, or do some personally meaningful volunteer work. Or perhaps taking advantage of a compressed work week of four 11-12-hour days instead of five 9-10-hour days one week will make all the difference in airline fares and thus affordability of a family vacation.

2. Remote work arrangements. As long as employees have a proven history of accountability and all the tools they needs to perform their jobs virtually, what’s the harm in letting them work from a hotel room or the home of a relative? You may actually discover they get a lot more done while away from the interruptions and distractions of the normal office environment.

Also see: 6 ways to overcome distractions

3. Team-managed shift flexibility. Clearly, not all jobs lend themselves to remote work; it’s not feasible for serving customers in a restaurant, caring for patients in a hospital, or running equipment in a factory. In those cases where physical presence is required, empower a team of workers to self-manage the exchange or modification of shifts as long as the changes meet certain predetermined criteria set by managers in terms of coverage, customer service, and requisite skill availability.

4. Auto-delete policy for vacation emails. Yes, I’m suggesting that we actually let people unplug during their vacations! Plus, imagine how much collective time employees waste digging themselves out from a thousands-deep hole of messages that are mostly moot by then. German car maker Daimler has already implemented this eyebrow-raising approach to holiday email on an optional basis, with corresponding explanatory out of office messages such as, ‘I am on vacation and your email is being deleted. Please contact [person] or resend the email when I'm back in the office on [date].’ In launching the policy, Daimler explained, "The aim of the project is to maintain the balance between the work and home life of Daimler employees so as to safeguard their performance in the long run."

5. Recess during last week of December. How much work actually gets done between Christmas and New Year’s Day? If you think a company-wide vacation of this sort is only offered by small businesses, you’d be mistaken. For example, aerospace behemoth Boeing states on its website, “For most employees, Boeing provides paid time off for 12 standard holidays, including a winter break between December 24 and January 1.”

Many of these perks will go a long way in raising morale, job satisfaction, employee engagement, and, ultimately, retention – much further than conventional corporate holiday actions like gifting engraved pens or hosting mandatory tacky sweater staff parties.

Shani Magosky is an executive coach and owner of Vitesse Consulting.

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