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Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Keep Employees' Attention During Holidays

Once twinkling colored lights go on in shopping centers, and strains of "Happy Holidays to You" float through malls, it's hard to keep any employees anywhere concentrating on their work.

So what can employers do to have some work done in their offices during the holiday season?

Allan Steinmetz, founder and CEO of Inward Strategic Consulting has a few suggestions:

1. Be Flexible - Implement flex schedules and allow employees to work remotely during the holiday week. This is extremely helpful for employees who are traveling during the holidays. Offer half days once a week to give employees time to do gift shopping. 

2. Food and Fun - Organize a company pot luck meal, a Yankee Swap gift exchange or Secret Santa event. Give the staff a turkey for their holiday dinner. 

3. Giving Thanks from the Top Down - Leaders and managers should send out a company-wide or department-wide message on the spirit of the holiday to express their appreciation to employees for their dedication and hard work; every employee likes to feel appreciated and valued. 

4. Many Hands Make Light Hearts - Engage the group in a charity event day - volunteer at local food bank or homeless shelter. Besides being altruistic, volunteering is a great team-building exercise. 

5. Competition Between Friends - Sponsor an employee contest to find ways to bring the holidays into the work setting to achieve the goals of the company. 

6. Help with Meals - If the company has a catering service or cafeteria, offer discounted prepared food that people can take home to save on the stress of cooking. 

7. Free Gift Wrapping - Set up free gift wrapping stations or even offer free gift wrapping services for your employees. 

8. "Adopt a family" - Many charities have "adopt a family programs" that range from supporting a family for the holidays so that children will receive gifts they otherwise would have lacked, to sponsoring the family for whole year. Or, take the message of thanks to a global level by funding others in severely challenged areas of the world. 

9. Give Thanks Often - Increase recognition efforts during the holiday season. While having a sustainable year round recognition strategy should be a priority for all organizations, the holiday season can be an especially stressful time for many employees. It doesn't take a big holiday bonus; just some meaningful holiday cheer can be just the thing they need. 

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