Productivity ahead of Christmas: Today’s the day we check out

Productivity plummets ahead of Christmas: Today’s the day we officially check out, according to new research.

Today (Monday 18 December) is the day 57 per cent of employees admit to officially downing tools as the festive period gets well and truly underway, according to new research by HR analytics company Peakon.

A survey of more than 2000 people reveals that, as Christmas creeps ever closer, employees admit to a whole raft of distractions from their everyday work duties. Two in five people (42 per cent) confess to clocking off to Christmas shop online, a third (35 per cent) say they’re planning Christmas day and almost one in three (30 per cent) are planning their Christmas break instead.

One in six (16 per cent) confess to indulging in the odd Christmas tipple on the job – with men twice as likely to take advantage of a festive drink than women (22 per cent and 11 per cent respectively). Seventeen per cent of those surveyed leave work earlier than usual, and one in ten (12 per cent) take longer lunches. A small percentage (four per cent) confess to calling in sick.

When asked why they’d slacked off, one in five (21 per cent) respondents said they were simply ‘too excited’ to focus. A third (32 per cent) said they had too much to plan ahead of Christmas day, 21 per cent admit to feeling ‘burnt-out’ and a fifth (19 per cent) said workplace festivities such as Secret Santa or the office party were to blame. One in three (32 per cent) said it was simply the case that business has slowed down and there’s less work to do at this time of year.

Dan Rogers, co-founder of Peakon, which helps businesses to measure employee engagement and retention, says, ‘I think it’s fair to say that the great Christmas ‘click-off’ is well and truly a thing, with a silent agreement in most workplaces that productivity takes a hit at this time of year. As a business, the worst thing you can do is bury your head in the sand; it pays to try to understand what is going on.

‘Acknowledge that this dip is inevitable and plan around it. Think of it as good time to regroup as a team, gather feedback on the progress you have made during the year, and plan how you will continue in January. Most businesses, with the exception of retail, experience a slow down around this time of year anyway, so trust your team and let them relax a little. Many employees are unlikely to have taken a break since summer, and will be more prone to burnout. If you look after the wellbeing of your team, you’ll ultimately get the best out of them.’

Some employers are tackling this head on. Online marketing agency Distilled has offered employees Christmas shopping hours, whereby workers can take Friday afternoon off if they make up the time during the week.

Distilled’s CEO, Will Critchlow, says, ‘A bit of distraction is inevitable at this time of year. We’re all human. So at Distilled, we don’t try to fight it too much – with flexibility for shopping, the odd long lunch, and generally trusting the team to plan their time. We might take a bit of a hit at this time of the year, but we trust our team and we know it balances out over time.’