18/12/2014 21:05 GMT | Updated 17/02/2015 05:59 GMT

Keeping Your Staff Motivated During Christmas

As the holiday season creeps up, for the majority of people this signals a time of celebration and multiple social events, with friends, family, and colleagues.

Yet for employers, especially those in the SME area with smaller staff numbers, the holiday season can fill them with dread. Staff become distracted by Christmas parties, book leave-off simultaneously, and nurse more hangovers than usual due to the Christmas festivities.

This can have big ramifications for SMEs, which feel the impact more acutely than larger companies. With staff absent due to holidays and employees winding down in preparation for a quiet couple of weeks, this can spell bad news for businesses.

So how do you keep your staff motivated during a period of multiple distractions? There are a number of tactics businesses can employ to keep productivity levels high, whilst also instilling a good atmosphere during this happy time of the year.

One of the first, most important tactics is to allow your employees some flexibility during these few weeks. Whether that's a later start time after the office work party or client drinks, or allowing staff to leave a bit earlier in order to hit the Christmas sales; small touches like this let staff know they have the ability to enjoy the holiday season, with little impact to the business.

Setting targets and outlining expectations early is also a crucial tool in keeping staff motivated. There is nothing more frustrating than businesses not outlining Christmas opening hours early, so that people can organise their holidays and book the necessary travel arrangements in due course. Not doing so can cause headaches for staff and create resentment if holidays are not approved due to other staff being off at the same time.

Once you've confirmed Christmas hours, then it is also important to define what you expect from staff during this period. Communicate effectively about responsibilities and what is required, which will keep your staff focused on the task at hand. With lots of distractions, it is important to reiterate that it is business as usual in the run up to the holiday season.

Lastly, the holiday season is the end of the year, when many companies will be considering bonuses and rewards for staff that have performed well. So make sure that this is communicated as well; you will be surprised at the response you receive from staff when they are rewarded and complimented on the great work they have done for the organisation in the past year.