Keeping young workers in check during the festive season

by 08 Dec 2011

With Christmas fast approaching, it's no surprise that the holiday season mindset is upon us - it ranges from the top level Execs to the Mail Room teenage interns. But before you write this period off as unproductive, here are a few thoughts around how you can keep the company's younger employees' productivity intact over the season.

Set targets
Many times, I consult with companies where their younger people are under-utilised because they can sometimes perform and adapt new skills faster than other employees. Coming up to Christmas, perhaps you've noticed some of them 'slacking off' while they claim all their work is 'finished', or they're 'on track'. Have a look to see that they in fact have enough work. Boredom can set in easily for young people, and they won't be the ones to come to you to ask for more tasks.

Young people of today think in achievement milestones, rather than time. So, instead of sticking to the 'you need to be working X hours on this project/task', give them milestones they can achieve. A friend of mine works for an insurance company. Their target during their eight hour day is to process 20 insurance claims. My friend does this in five hours, and wanders around aimlessly between the bathroom, cafeteria and water cooler to make up the other three hours. Notice those who may be under-utilised, and hand on extra targets for them to achieve.

Get them onboard
At your next team meeting, present the targets/results you want to achieve before Christmas and get everyone's buy-in to get it done as individuals and as a team. Young people's competitiveness may set in to do jobs faster, or spend less time at the water cooler. As long as it's friendly, you will be amazed at how much productivity can go up. During my years in the workforce, the best job I had was the one where coming up to November and December, when our sales targets would get doubled.

With our young peoples' attitude of 'let's just get this done and over with', it was surprising how many of us, some who never even made targets during the year, would reach past our doubled targets. It's win-win and gives young people not only motivation to work towards goals, but a chance for them to belong to a team, meaning less chances of them dropping the ball - because they want to get the year over and done with! Turn this time of distractions into a time to pump out the most work.

Keep the discipline intact, but allow leeway
Don't give staff the special treatment all day just because you 'understand' it's coming up to Christmas. Work is work, so make sure you're still sticking to the rules that everyone is aware of.

Like a common parenting principle, if you don't stick to the rule you set once, your kids are more likely to keep bending the rules because they think they can get away with it. Having said that, if you can allow for some extra leeway during this time, give these as rewards for target achievement, or recognition. An example could be, to give them an extra 10 or 15 minutes of lunch break. It might sound simple, but they will appreciate the 'gift'.

About the author
Eva-Maria is a 21 year old bestselling author of the book 'You Shut Up!', international speaker and certified coach Eva-Maria is living her dream: she is on a mission to help improve 10,000,000 relationships between adults and teenagers around the world. For more information visit