The run-up to Christmas is stressful in most people’s lives, but it is the added internal business pressures of the festive season that carries the most serious risks.
This period requires a planned approach to adding resource and skilled capacity to cope with demand. What’s more, it’s an opportunity to prepare for the new year and start it ahead of the pack.
The ‘Christmas effect’
Some of the pressures are easy to spot – Christmas is the time to entertain clients and the effect is to draw senior staff into days out of the office.
This often means there’s a knock-on effect of routine decision-making processes either being delayed or disrupted with key colleagues missing.
Christmas is also the peak season for annual reviews of performance by clients, placing a huge demand on senior staff to spend time on work which is essentially looking backwards as well as time spent in meetings, generating reports and ideas for future work.
A rushed period?
Creating long term plans and proposals for the coming year is incredibly time hungry for the best brains in the business.
What’s more, employees are doing this against the clock, with stretched capacity meaning they might be presenting ideas that are weaker than usual and may well be rejected – creating further re-work and undermining the trust between you and your customers.
During this hectic period, senior managers usually meet less frequently than normal and the time for strategic planning gets pushed into January when staff are generally at their least motivated and focused.
Low staff motivation and poorer quality work
It is also the peak month for job hunting when many people are feeling the pinch financially (the blue Monday effect) and life seems flat after the fun.
Planning your blue sky away day for January is a really bad idea! But leave it until February and it’s the end of Q4 before you see any action.
Basically Christmas is a minefield for business, sapping energy, focus and critical resources at the end of a quarter when there is still time to change the outcomes for the crucial final quarter of the year.
Why freelancers could be the answer
The simplest way to mitigate these above risks is to inject specialist freelance capacity in order to improve the quality and volume of ‘business as usual’ work.
They can also add more intellectual firepower to the high-value work to create forward plans and proposals for these crucial ‘end of year’ review meetings with key clients.
Freelancers bring several vital qualities to teams stretched beyond their limits at Christmas:
1. Intellectual energy
Freelancers come into the workplace with no baggage of personal animosities that have developed over time (something that boils over all too frequently at staff Christmas parties).
They arrive fresh and have the in-built motivation of seeking immediate impact in order to get hired again.
2. Specialist knowledge
A freelancer chosen for their deep sector knowledge will approach the task of creating new plans for key clients with expertise and the value of no pre-conceptions and new perspectives on what has and hasn’t worked for other clients in the category.
3. Total focus
While you and your colleagues are spending valuable time entertaining customers at Christmas, an expert freelancer is spending their time completely focused on the job in hand in a way that is predictable, entirely transparent and 100% efficient.
Let’s be honest about this, Christmas is a time when a LOT of time is simply written off after client lunches and dinners the night before.
It’s a hunch but for a lot of businesses, an analysis of time wasted by employees who are not quite all there in the festive period, even if they are at their desks would probably pay for a few days of high-quality freelance time…
Finally, prepare well for these constraints on your business and you will enter January and the start of the final, critical quarter with customer relationships re-enforced both through goodwill and the quality of work proposed at this key time in both the calendar and the business year.