In an ideal world, Santa and his elves would be the only ones working over Christmas. But according to ONS, it is likely that more than 1 million staff will be working on Christmas Day, and upwards of 1.5 million on Boxing Day. For some organisations, like the NHS and emergency services, working over the Christmas period is business as normal, for which we are profoundly grateful.

For office-based businesses like our own, customer support is still needed. Even on Christmas Day, our online system is being monitored to make sure it is up and running smoothly – and available for anyone who wants to book time off in 2019!

So how do managers and HR keep up morale amongst staff, who, let’s face it, would rather be out shopping the Christmas markets or tucking into a mince pie at home rather than being stuck in the office? Here are some tried and tested approaches you can take which will help keep employees on side and motivated.

Be transparent and honest

Some managers may find turning down a holiday request to be awkward or uncomfortable, but it’s important to address the situation with the employee head on so not to create an ongoing issue. Perhaps too many of the employee’s team are already taking leave during this period, or maybe a major project needs finishing before the New Year. By explaining to the employee why they’re needed, you can help dampen the blow and your employees will feel more valued as a result.

Allow flexible working

Offering flexible working arrangements can be an effective compromise. With the vast majority of business systems now available from the Cloud, working from home gives employees the opportunity to fit their working schedule around their personal life, whether that’s spending more time with their kids during the Christmas holidays, or letting them choose their own hours to fit around festive activities. By giving them more control to manage their own work life balance, you can keep employee morale high whilst work continues to get done.

Get creative with Christmas activities

But of course, not every office-based role lends itself to flexible working. If your employees are meeting clients face to face, meeting and greeting visitors or managing a busy switchboard, working from home or working unconventional hours isn’t feasible. Putting on Christmas activities, big or small, is a great way to raise spirits amongst those who have to remain in the office. The Christmas party is a now a staple of office culture, but smaller perks such as a paid staff lunch, after work drinks, a Christmas quiz or even just festive snacks in the kitchen can make it feel like it’s not just another day in the office.

And relax the dress code

For those employees not in customer facing roles, relaxing the dress code rather than enforcing the usual attire can also have an uplifting affect. And why stop there? A Christmas jumper competition, or office Christmas fancy dress can be bit of harmless, inexpensive fun that will help boost morale amongst those employees who feel as if they’re missing out on festivities outside of work.

These are just some suggestions to help keep your business running smoothly over the Christmas period. But no two offices are the same of course, and so what works for one may not work for another. With this in mind, you might find it beneficial to invite feedback directly from your staff to see what they want. By listening to what they have to say, and by acting upon their suggestions, you can go a long way in ensuring that that your workforce remains engaged, and that productivity levels stay high.