Work Time Management··3 min read

How to manage employees who are on duty during Christmas?

How to manage employees who are on duty during Christmas?

Working is nobody’s ideal way to spend Christmas. But it’s also not uncommon; according to a 2014 Heartland Monitor Poll, as many as 1 in 4 Americans are at work during major holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years’ Day. In those occupations where this is unavoidable, how is a manager to keep employees with Christmas day duty happy, and the business running smoothly? Here are six strategies to make working Christmas day as painless as possible for you and your employees.

Infuse work with holiday spirit

For many people, working while friends and family enjoy a day of festivities can be disheartening. Providing the same sense of holiday warmth and community at work can take that cold edge right off. Managers can create at-work holiday spirit by organizing company gift exchanges, social mixers, or other activities. Encourage employees to express holiday wishes and greetings to one another and customers, offer a prize for the best decorated work space, or simply have Christmas music playing. The more employees feel a festive spirit at work, the less they will feel preoccupied by the holiday activities going on outside of work.

Set specific goals for the day

With the busyness of the holiday season and Christmas day in particular, it’s easy for employees to lose focus. The last thing a manager needs is employees who say to themselves, “It’s Christmas day, I don’t need to do any real work.” Help employees keep on track with a special set of goals or targets for the day. Populate the list with even mundane tasks, such as greeting customers or responding to client inquiries – these can be turned into more festive activities by encouraging employees to add holiday greetings or other personal touches. By keeping the atmosphere light yet engaging, managers can sustain productivity while keeping morale healthy.

Sympathize (but don’t complain!)

One of the simplest ways for a manager to keep employee morale high on Christmas day is to lead by example. If a manager appears glum about working on the holiday, employee dissatisfaction will be all the more intense. Managers should model purposefulness and productivity, but also sensitivity to employee feelings. Express understanding that employees are likely missing out on time with friends and family, but avoid apologizing or complaining, as this will undermine the focus and community spirit mentioned above.

Recognize employee contributions

In line with showing sympathy is expressing appreciation. Show employees that their time, energy, and sacrifice are appreciated with a small gift or note at the start of the work day. In particular, a heartfelt note from a manager or CEO can really boost an employee’s sense of community and motivation. The holidays are very much about belonging, and showing employees that those higher up recognize their contributions is a great way to make working Christmas day feel less isolating.

Track time for accountability

While nobody wants to feel overly scrutinized—especially not on Christmas—some accountability amidst the hectic holiday schedules goes a long way toward successful holiday business. An online employee scheduling and time tracking app like is a terrific way to keep employees up-to-date about the schedule, and ensure productive time management. Extra-long breaks or leaving early might be tempting on a holiday, and so an online employee time management system is a great way to keep everyone clear and accountable on work commitments.

Provide holiday food

Although we love the holidays for the togetherness and fun they bring, food is also a huge part of it! Little brings people together and creates a festive air like holiday food and treats. Whether it’s coffee and pastries at the beginning of the day, or a Christmas cookie break in the afternoon, providing food to employees working on Christmas will give them that taste of holidays they’re missing. Such small touches will make employees feel valued and keep morale high throughout the day.

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