Increasing Productivity During the Holiday Season: Productivity Lottery for Christmas

Female Santa running with a gift sackAlmost everyone is aware that during December — especially as Christmas grows nearer — most workplaces report more employee absences, more mistakes, and lower productivity.  It’s certainly predictable that people are going to be distracted, rushed, concerned about money and over-committed in social obligations at this time of year.

When I was working for a small organization — many years ago — the management had a unique way of increasing both attendance and productivity during the holiday season.

Unlike many organizations, not only did they not experience a “seasonal” decrease in employee attendance, performance and/or productivity, they actually got a slight boost, and they did it with one tradition they used every year.

They called the tradition “The Twelve Days of Christmas Lottery.”

For the twelve days before Christmas, there was a lottery every day.  Everyone put a card with his/her name on it into a cardboard box with a slot in the top.  Each day someone from management would reach in and pull out a card to identify that day’s winner.  No one wanted to miss the lottery, because you had to be there to win.  And once a name was pulled out, the card didn’t go back in, so you couldn’t win on another day.  And, obviously, you could only win once.

The winner of the lottery received three valuable things.

First, he got a substantial gift certificate to a local department store.

Second, his bio and achievements and anything else he wanted to include about himself were published in a daily Christmas Newsletter.  The newsletter was well-read because it contained seasonal tips, recommendations for shopping, and discounts the business had negotiated for its employees with other local businesses.  This meant, as you may imagine, that folks in other departments would know more about him, his skills and his achievements when opportunities for promotions and transfers to more desirable jobs came up.

Third, and to many the most important, the winner got a “1 Merit Point” he could use to boost his rating in the upcoming January performance review.  He could also use it as “extra credit” if he was a candidate for a promotion.

You see why everyone wanted to be there for the lottery?

Can you see a way to adapt this productivity tool for your organization?  Would it need to be scaled up or down?  Could you use something like Amazon gift cards instead of local ones? What could you add, subtract or modify?