How to stop staff switching off for Christmas

With just a couple of days to go until Christmas Eve, there’s a good chance many of your staff are beginning to wind down – unless, of course, Christmas is your busiest time of the year. If things do slow down over the festive period, you might be taking things easy yourself, or even on holiday already.

But what if you need people to stay switched on over the holidays? Especially in that ‘dead zone’ between Christmas and New Year? Here are some tips to help keep things ticking over.

The seasonal switch-off

It makes sense for a lot of companies to shut down between Christmas and New Year – the natural lull in business means it’s just not cost-effective to stay open – but the results of a study from Peakon, an employee engagement platform, has found that it might be worthwhile shutting down a bit sooner.

The study assessed the workplace engagement levels of 3,000 UK employees, in an attempt to work out the day when the majority are most likely to switch off for the seasonal period, and it found over half (54%) of employees are winding down from December 16.

Even worse was the news that around one-in-ten (12%) admitted to switching off before December 1st.

Other eye-opening findings included:

  • Over a quarter of employees (26%) say they lose focus past 9th December
  • Only 7% of workers claim they will maintain their productivity levels after 23rd December
  • Younger people are likely to switch off earlier, with the majority saying they will wind down from 15th
  • More than 50% of over 55s, will wait until 20th before they begin to wind down.

So what can you do to stop your staff switching off over Christmas?

How to stop staff switching off

According to Peakon, there are three main reasons employees switch off early for Christmas – distraction, health, and demotivation – Dan Rogers, co-founder of Peakon and an expert in employee engagement, said: “We’ve identified nine cumulative, festive factors which cause British employees to ‘click off’ en masse ahead of Christmas. In isolation, these factors would ordinarily have a negligible impact on productivity, however, the combined effect definitely takes its toll on weary employees thinking wistfully ahead to their Christmas turkey.”

The factors themselves fall into three categories:

  • Distraction
  • Health
  • Demotivation

For employers and managers intending to bring a healthy dose of Christmas spirit into their offices, without any of the negative effects on staff.


If employees are ordering presents online during office hours, offer them designated time slots, outside of the lunch hour, where they can make essential Christmas purchases without getting into trouble.

New Year is often a time when staff will stat looking for new jobs, so take the time to remind them how important they are to the company and provide them with a clear vision of ambition and growth which they won’t want to miss. 

Internal office environment becoming contagiously disengaged, and looking enviously at other companies in your sector then try to create a healthy Christmas spirit by decorating the office, getting a Secret Santa going and making sure any festive parties are pencilled in early.


Increased alcohol consumption and party season fatigue is a very real phenomenon, so make sure your office stocked with caffeinated drinks, fresh water, fruit, and high-carbohydrate snacks to help boost energy levels.

Mid-afternoon sugar crashes are also common, so try not to dish out any treats and mince pies until after 4pm. This will provide a sugar rush towards the end of the working day, and a final spike in productivity – they can then crash in their own time.

Sickness is also a big problem at this time of year, as there are increases in common colds and flu, so make sure your employees are provided with antibacterial wipes, hand sanitiser, and encourage them to keep their workstations clean and tidy, to avoid spread of bugs and viruses. And keep a stock of paracetamol and anti-flu medicine to hand.


Bad weather, transport strikes, roadworks and accidents can all make life a misery for commuters, so try to be understanding of staff who might be late due to travel issues. And try to make sure your office is warm, well-lit and welcoming.

The dark mornings don’t help either, so offering flexible working could be a good tactic to keep up motivation levels, letting staff come in later and work later on some days can really make things easier for them, as can the chance to work from home some days.

If you do offer home working, make sure you hook up with a reliable conference call provider so no one ever need miss out on a meeting.

infographic showing different people who work over Christmas

How do you keep staff motivated over the festive season? Let us know…