How can you keep staff happy this Christmas?

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Being stuck in the office over the festive season isn't ideal for most of us, so it's only natural that motivation levels might wane.

How can dealing with spreadsheets and invoices possibly be satisfying when everyone you know is eating, drinking and being merry elsewhere?

That's why it's vital for employers at small businesses to make a concerted effort to make their staff feel valued and appreciated at this time of year. 

You'll find a little can go a long way and help to get the best out of your staff not just at Christmas, but also during the year ahead. And as Jacqui Glenn, director of Argos for Business, notes, this doesn't have to be prohibitively costly.

Be flexible
If you can't afford to close the office for a week over Christmas, you could at least give staff the option to change their working hours or work remotely. It will make it far easier for employees to juggle work and home demands over the festive season - and they will appreciate you more for letting this happen.

As Ms Glenn told SmallBusiness.co.uk: "Understanding that your team has a life outside of work, especially during the festive season, will set you apart from other businesses and make your company attractive to potential new employees."

Praise your staff
Research by Argos for Business has found that one in three people consider verbal recognition more important than extra holidays and performance-related bonuses. Furthermore, one in ten workers revealed they would be more likely to stay with a company if they were regularly thanked. 

Saying thank you and commending them for good work is such a simple and inexpensive way to give your staff a bit of a lift - and that could be exactly what they need at Christmas time when they are missing their homes and family.

Arrange staff socials throughout the year
Working over Christmas can be much more bearable if you feel a strong sense of camaraderie with your colleagues. So spend the year actively trying to foster a bond between members of your team, perhaps by arranging social gatherings.

"Without the distraction of office life, staff members can get to know each other on a personal level, which in turn creates a positive dynamic within the team," Ms Glenn commented.

And don't overlook specifically festive shindigs. Everything from a Secret Santa to decorating the office and laying on some mince pies should help to perk staff up and get them feeling festive even when they're at work.

Let staff come up with ideas
Employees can feel a much greater stake in a business if they have room to make suggestions about where it can go next. So make sure staff know their input is valued, as it helps them look beyond what's in their in-tray and at the bigger picture.

Ms Glenn believes Christmas is a great time to let employees have their say on what goes on.

"Decisions don’t have to be huge; they could even be as small as where to have the Christmas do," she said.

"But showing your employees that you value their opinion and are happy to listen to their ideas will go a long way in making them feel appreciated."

Hopefully, doing all the right things this Christmas will benefit your firm way beyond the festive season - and lead to your workforce going into 2017 feeling energised and enthusiastic.