A whole new vacation season is about to be upon us—the holidays. Workers will be leaving the office left and right, for extended periods of time. Sick days are going to increase as cold and flu season hits and don’t forget about snow days. Leaders need to plan, prioritize and allocate effectively in order to keep the ball rolling while workers are in and out of the office.
Time tracking software provider Toggl, conducted a study on productivity over the holidays. The study revealed a steady and dramatic decrease in work starting in mid-December, dropping by 52%, and not fully recovering until the end of January. Employers are looking at about 45 days of reduced productivity—that’s pretty significant. Leaders have to find the balance between facilitating a healthy work-life balance, and keeping the ball rolling in business during the holidays.
Forecast Your Talent Needs
Patterns surrounding your unique talent needs are there, but many leaders don’t know what to look for, or even to be looking. Employers have gotten great at collecting data, but not so great at the next step – using that data. Look back and find patterns in the data that you already have. What are your slowest months, busiest months, the months that you fell behind?
This information will allow you to communicate with your recruiting department about upcoming talent or cross-training needs. If you are historically busy during the holidays, recruiting, hiring and training might need to start in August in order to stay ahead of the curve. 54% of employers report having open positions for which they can’t find qualified candidates. As business ramps up during those traditionally busy times, it might just be too late to make a timely impact.
Allocate Talent Resources
Again, the data that you have already collected can help you allocate your talent in a far more effective way. Each department faces their own talent demands at different times. Having a clear understanding of exactly what those demands are allows leaders to find the talent gaps, and fill them in proactively.
If you know that shipping is going to go down in a ball of flames in December, it might be time in October to start cross-training another department that is traditionally slower in December, instead of hiring seasonal workers. With the right performance tracking software, leaders are given a bird’s eye view of exactly where they need to reallocate talent, and exactly where they can pull that talent from.
Tighten Up Project Management
This is probably the most effective move a leader can make to keep projects moving forward over the holidays. Transparent project management lays out each step of the process, whatever it may be. Each moving part in a project needs to have a common roadmap in order to keep moving in the same direction, at the same pace. Lack of project management, especially during the holidays can cause costly bottlenecks in productivity and duplicate work.
The most effective project management is backed by good software. Every step is mapped out in a transparent flow for each worker. In this manner, leaders are able to see several steps ahead. If you know that Debbie is on-track to finalize the big project the week of Dec. 15th, but she is going to be out of town, you can make the necessary tweaks to your roadmap well in advance of this potential issue.
With this in-depth analysis of each project, leaders are given far more options and time to get things back on track, or even prevent derailments. Debbie might agree to finalize the project remotely, she might have a replacement in mind, or you might end up needing to speed up the project. In any case, you are prepared and the changes can be communicated and implemented proactively.
Keeping the ball rolling during the holidays does take thoughtful leadership, but without access to the appropriate data and software, it can be nearly impossible to lead a larger team through this traditional productivity slump. Keeping track of project milestones and how they coincide with vacation time for each worker can be maddening. Keep it simple with technology.
Want to know more about what we’re talking about? Learn how to seamlessly lead your team through the holidays right now.