The importance of downtime and family time over Christmas

With December in full swing, and Christmas trees going up in living rooms all over the world, many businesses are working flat out as they try to hit end-of-year targets, fulfil orders and keep customers and clients sweet. When the Christmas break comes then, the chance to take some time out will prove to be a welcome break for many burned-out workers.

Making sure your team has a good Christmas isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also crucial for successful business. So, why is Christmas downtime so important?

Recharging batteries

After a long, hard year, people need the much-deserved break that Christmas affords them. December can be a particularly gruelling month for many, with increased levels of stress from colleagues and customers as people prepare for the Christmas retail rush and the subsequent break. This can mean looming deadlines which, combined with shorter, darker days and colder weather can all add up to a challenging month.

All of which can take its toll.

Studies have shown that exhaustion can cause a 30–40% reduction in productivity in staff by mid-December. Therefore, making sure employees and business owners schedule some time off over Christmas to relax and recharge their batteries is crucial, so they return to work raring to go and refreshed ready for the New Year ahead.

Friends and family

Spending time with friends and family is important, and Christmas is the perfect opportunity to catch up with loved ones. This downtime with those we are closest too is good for our mental and physical health, and it can help us put other aspects of life such as work into context. We know that strong relationships with family and friends reduces stress levels and increases coping mechanisms, and makes us happier, healthier people.

A good Christmas break is essential therefore, if we want our team to be healthy, productive and ready to succeed in the new year.

Reconnect with what’s meaningful

Switching off from the stresses and strains of daily life and enjoying some Christmas downtime helps us all focus on what’s meaningful in life. It’s an opportunity to stop and think about things you’re grateful, see life’s challenges from a different perspective. This means you and your team can return to the workplace after Christmas with a renewed mindset.

Give staff a break

So, with business downtime so important to staff wellbeing, how can we practically ensure workers get the break they deserve this Christmas?

To make sure everyone gets the chance to take the break they need, assess Christmas staffing requirements way before the event. Many companies start to wind down their business activities early, so there’s no point having excess workers in your office if the clients they interact with have long since gone home. Consider whether some of the non-urgent activities your staff do can wait until after Christmas.

Where you do need to keep a team on hand, consider if any employees could work remotely, or aim to be as flexible as possible to fit around their requirements. Remote working over the festive period could help to increase staff motivation and productivity and avoid burnout.

While business continuity is important during the festive season, make sure you operate a fair rota system when deciding which employees have to come into work, and allow some flexibility within this system. For instance, some staff might be happy to work different days over Christmas or New Year.

If staff have worked especially hard during the year, then consider the option of giving them an extra day’s leave, as a way of saying thank you. This helps employees feel valued and can have a positive impact on their motivation and productivity when they return to the workplace.

If you enjoyed this article, you can read more on my website, available here.

I’m Philip J. Keezer, president and founder of management consulting firm Grindstone Capital. Dedicated to hard work, learning, positivity and accountability.