Staying Focused During the Final Stretch

The end of the year is a stressful time for everyone, professionally and personally. It’s the holidays, it’s the end of the quarter, it’s distracting. In a 2018 survey of 15,000 employees across the US, UK, Nordics and Germany, Peakon studied the timeframe for when employees mentally check-out, or “click off,” as the holidays approach.

The researchers found that more than a quarter of workers—26 percent—predict they won’t be fully focused on their jobs past December 9. Part of this may be attributed to the shopping carts we all now hold in our hands. The world is at our fingertips, with instant reminders of how close we are to the holidays—whether we are thinking of joyful moments of time off spent with family or the crush of the presents yet to be purchased and the work to be done before the years’ end.

The earliest anticipated decline in productivity was found among employees aged 18-24, while older generations expected to maintain focus further into December. Still, the majority of workers 35 and older believe they will remain fully engaged going into the final week of work before the holiday.

The loss of focus at year-end doesn’t need to be a detriment to a company. Employers can best handle the issue by recognizing it and using the productivity down time in other ways. For example, this may be a great opportunity for a team bonding activity or an imaginative brainstorm. Giving employees creative reign for the day on a mini-project that there hasn’t been time for previously might be the best way to channel lapsing focus.

The holidays are a lot to handle—but this stressful season brings many opportunities to make the most of employees’ heightened moods and energies.