5 Ways To Keep Employees Motivated During Holiday Season and/or Slower Months

November 1, 2018

Perhaps your most important goal as a leader is to keep employees engaged in their work and performing at their best throughout their tenure in the organization. It’s much easier to achieve that goal when employees are challenged and when the organization is flourishing in a “busy” period, pulsing with timelines and energy and success. It becomes much more difficult to keep motivations high during the naturally slower holiday months or during organizational or industry lulls.

Here, we share five ways to keep employees motivated and focused, especially during the slow times.

1. Long-term workload balancing

One way to keep your employees fully engaged and productive, even in slower months, is to take a page from…. utility companies. Yes, I said utility companies. Hear me out for a second:

Winters can be tough on a person, and on a person’s utility usage: their utility bill might triple or quadruple during the coldest months, reduce to almost nothing during 65-degree months, and then peak again when it’s hot and the AC’s are blasting. To make it easier for residents, utility companies offer balanced or fixed billing, allowing clients to pay the average, fixed amount monthly and avoid unexpected peaks or drops.

You can use this same “load balancing” concept to help sustain your employees’ productivity throughout the year, during peak busy season AND the slower seasons. To do that, create a broad, overarching 12-month plan that incorporates variations in workload and fill in the slow times with tasks and projects that create efficiencies during the peak times. Your staff will likely still feel the ebbs and flow, but by trying this long-term workload balancing tactic you can minimize the impact.

2. Get some spring cleaning done

You know how most homes have a room that’s filled from wall-to-wall with things that nobody needs anymore (possibly your attic, garage, basement, or “junk room”)? A lot of the time, there’s a version of that junk room in your office or workspace; it might be your own desk, a corner in common or lounge area, a closet, or some other random spot in the office.  And when you peak in and see what type of junk there is, you might find boxes of duplicate checks from 1982, enormous files of old posters and obsolete forms, or outdating, yellowing office phones that haven’t been used in a decade.

Lulls in workload are a perfect time to tackle those junk spaces, freshen up the paint in the office, clean carpets, and declutter workstations (both computer files and desks). Putting your teams to some light work of spring cleaning (even if it isn’t spring) will not only give them something different to work on that shakes up the slow season monotony, but at the end of it all they’ll be rewarded with the positive inspiration that comes with a newly clean workplace.

3. Encourage vacations

Employees tend to plan their vacations around their obligations at work and also based on the expectations of leadership. For example, med-surg nurses might plan vacation during summer months when census is low, while CPAs take more time off during the tax off-season.

Tell staff during on-boarding (or remind them during a routine company update) when vacations are easiest to accommodate; this results in natural “flex staffing” that peaks during busy times and drops during slow times with virtually no negative impact on your employees.

4. Focus on your mission

If your organization has philanthropic goals (like volunteering in the community or raising money for a good cause), slow months are the perfect opportunity to dedicate time to these often-forgotten projects. Organize a food or clothing drive, donate one day a week to a local soup kitchen, or grab trash bags and clean up your neighborhood.

These activities can keep your employees engaged, build teams, and help you establish a positive employer brand in the community; scheduling them during slower business months can be the boost your employees need.

5. Brainstorm for the future

Many organizations find that leaders are so busy working in the business that they struggle to find time to work on the business. Slow times are a great time to bring employees together to brainstorm for the future. Not only does this keep them busy and engaged, but it helps create a sense of job security and sends the message that their input is valuable. You can use the start, stop, continue method to lead these conversations, focusing on:

  • What isn’t the organization doing today that it should start doing to stay competitive?
  • What should the organization stop doing?
  • Which practices should the organization continue, and what improvements can be made to these practices?

It’s never a good feeling to sense that your employees could be a lot more productive and engaged if only it were a different time of year or if it were a more interesting “busy” season, but at least now you have some effective ways to combat the inevitable and seasonable ebbs and flows that impact most organizations.


For more best practices for improving your organization from the inside out – which impacts both company culture and employer branding – check out our free resources that we’ve made specifically for company leaders, HR and talent acquisition teams.

Linda Le Phan
Senior Content Marketing Manager at kununu.

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