December 08, 2017

Christmas is bad for workers’ productivity

Christmas is bad for workers’ productivity

Over 60% of employees are mentally distracted from their jobs by Christmas as early as mid-December, according to a new study from HR data analysis company Peakon.

Peakon’s survey questioned more than 2,000 workers in the UK about their work habits in the run up to the holiday season. Approximately six in ten admitted their productivity noticeably declines in the week before Christmas, which suggests workplace efficiency will start to falter on December 18. One-third of workers said they check out because of the natural decline in activity that many businesses experience as the holidays approach. 

However, four in ten people are online shopping instead of working, while one-third are planning Christmas day or their holiday break. Perhaps more alarmingly, 16% admitted to drinking on the job. 

Dan Rogers, the co-founder of Peakon, told CBS News that although this information was gathered from UK workers, it was likely American peers would be similarly distracted, “particularly with Thanksgiving having just been and gone.”

Those between the ages of 25 and 34—millennials—are the most likely to be overwhelmed by holiday planning. They’re also the most likely to get distracted by workplace festivities. To counteract this, Peakon recommends companies hold their office parties later in December, since an early office party could signal to workers that they can wind down after the big event.   

Rogers believes that, "If you look after the well-being of your team, you'll ultimately get the best out of them.” 

This is a belief reflected by Eugenio Proto in his IZA World of Labor article, “Are happy workers more productive?” Proto explains that “[b]oth a temporary increase in happiness and long-term changes in baseline happiness are associated with greater productivity…Happiness seems to motivate greater effort, increasing output without affecting its quality and thus boosting productivity.” 

An important avenue for future research, Proto feels, is the possibility of self-reinforcing spirals—ones that might even operate at a macroeconomic level—of the effect running from happiness to productivity: “Happiness might lead to greater productivity in an economy, and that might in turn result in greater well-being in the population.”