Survey Confirms Most Employees Less Productive Before Major Holiday

MENLO PARK, CA -- Between the eggnog lattes and gift exchanges, the distractions at work tend to multiply as the holidays approach. It’s no surprise then that 44 percent of executives polled recently said employees are less productive the week before a major holiday. The good news is there are some people who pick up the slack -- 23 percent of managers surveyed said they believe workers are more productive during these times.

The national poll includes responses from 150 senior executives -- including those from human resources, finance and marketing departments -- with the nation’s 1,000 largest companies. It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Accountemps, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals.

Executives were asked, “In your opinion, are employees more or less productive the week before a major holiday?” Their responses:

Much more productive 5%
Somewhat more productive 18%
No difference 31%
Somewhat less productive 42%
Much less productive 2%
Don't know/no answer     2%

“Offices are typically less productive during the holidays than at other times of the year because of the many distractions,” according to Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Motivating Employees For Dummies® (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). “This can place pressure on managers and staff to stay focused on critical end-of-quarter and end-of-year projects.”

The opposite also can be true as some workplaces experience a lull in business activity around this time of year. Messmer suggests employees take advantage of downtime by completing activities that were previously on the backburner and by planning ahead for the upcoming year. “Just don’t skip the festivities altogether or you will lose the opportunity to celebrate the season with colleagues,” he cautioned.

Accountemps offers the following tips to employees for remaining productive before a major holiday:

  • Beat the rush. Plan with your supervisor and colleagues, and allow adequate time to prepare for and complete major projects that occur during the holiday season.
  • Make a list and check it twice. Tie up loose ends before leaving for vacation. Provide alternative contact information in your voicemail messages and e-mail auto-responses so that incoming requests can be handled.
  • Remember that it is better to give than receive. When possible, delegate time-sensitive tasks and responsibilities to coworkers, and offer to return the favor when they are out. Make sure the person taking over for you has clear instructions and guidance on the project.

Accountemps has more than 330 offices throughout North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and offers online job search services at www.accountemps.com.

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