CHICAGO (TheStreet) -- It's become a seasonal tradition: employees celebrating their post-Thanksgiving return to work by logging on and ordering holiday presents on "Cyber Monday."
Expecting your workers to be productive over the next couple of weeks is a tall order. Unless you're in retail, December tends to be a slow month, with workers counting down the days till vacation. As offices empty out, even owners find themselves browsing Amazon (Stock Quote: AMZN) wish lists rather than year-end paperwork.
But the last few weeks of the year don't have to be a total loss. Here are five suggestions for making the most of the quiet time:
1. Reward Great Workers
Most likely, you won't be handing out year-end bonuses to all your employees. But you know there are certain people who made a big difference during tough times: the ones who smiled their way through encounters with difficult clients, or suggested new procedures that saved money.
Now is the time to reward the employees that you want to keep around. Extra cash is great, but even gift cards send the message that they're valued, especially if that card was chosen especially for them (a dinner at a family restaurant for a single mom; a card to an electronics store for your in-house tech whiz).
2. Build Team Spirit
Lavish holiday parties may be a relic of the past (along with the morning-after stories about drunken co-workers). Jokes aside, those gatherings served an important purpose: They brought everyone at a company together in a relaxed setting and gave them a chance to talk about subjects other than work. That's why you should consider throwing your own holiday party, even on a limited budget.
You don't need an open bar or multi-course dinner. It can be a simple lunch at a local restaurant or an afternoon dessert buffet at the office. Inviting spouses is a nice touch, but not necessary. The important thing is to show your workers that you want them to relax and have fun while on the clock.