Slacking off at work during the holidays? Apparently, you have some company.
Roughly one-third of managers in a recent survey said employees don't work as hard the week before a big holiday.
The culprit, of course, is all the distractions, according to a national poll of about 1,000 senior managers at big companies nationwide. Buying gifts online, planning office parties, trips to grandma's and other festivities can end up chipping away at work time.
"It can be challenging for employees to strike a balance between personal obligations and work obligations," said Aubrey Reed, a division director for Accountemps, which commissioned the poll.
While 34 percent of managers said workers were less productive around holidays, the majority, 48 percent, said there was no change in output. Eighteen percent said employees actually were more productive.
The good news for companies this holiday season is that fewer workers apparently will be slacking off than five years ago, when a similar survey by Accountemps found 44 percent of managers said employees scaled back around big holidays.
Reed said cutbacks in staff during the recession have forced many professionals to work harder year-round. "There's a lot more to do for one individual than maybe five years ago," she said.
One thing managers can do to help keep employees on track during the holidays is recognize their hard work, Reed said. Instead of simply cracking the whip, "Let them know how appreciated they are working hard during the peak time of year when so much is going on."
Managers should take care to plan ahead on important projects to avoid setbacks because so many people are taking time off, Reed said.
Employees can help out by checking co-workers' vacation plans and delegating time-sensitive tasks to colleagues, offering to return the favor when they are away, she said.
Employees can stay more focused at work by prioritizing and not feeling pressured to attend every holiday function.
Not surprisingly, Reed encourages companies to consider hiring temporary staff to help keep from falling behind.