EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


November 17, 2012

Beware holiday work slackers -- but don't be a Scrooge

‘Twas a month before Christmas, and all through the place, not a creature was working, not even in one space. The paperwork was flung about with despair, with hopes that the boss wouldn’t notice that no one was there.

Yes, it’s that time of year again. So much to do. The Thanksgiving feast to plan, Christmas cards to mail, mistletoe to hang, cookies to bake, eggnog to make, guests to entertain and gifts to buy.

It’s enough to distract the most conscientious of employees — and bring out the bah-humbug in the kindest of office managers.

Don’t think they don’t notice. Just like Santa knows who’s naughty and nice, managers can sense who’s slacking and who’s not.

In a 2010 survey by Accountemps, a California staffing services firm, 34 percent of senior managers found their employees to be “somewhat” or “much less” productive the week before a major holiday. The poll was based on phone interviews with more than 1,000 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees.

“We start to see it about that week before Thanksgiving, when people start to look at taking time off,” said Andrew Sassaman, a manager with Robert Half International, a specialized staffing company.

That doesn’t mean the holiday season, work-wise, has to be as unfulfilling as a Christmas fruitcake. There are ways to keep the time festive without it becoming a drag on productivity, Sassaman said.

He offers some tips to employees -- and employers -- to keep the holidays a holly, jolly time of the year in the office:

Make a list. No, not for Santa, but for you to chart what work must be done, what deadlines must be met and how to accomplish both.

“People have a tendency to lose focus during the holidays. Because so much else is going on, keeping lists keeps you focused and on task for the holidays,” Sassaman said.

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