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We all know those people who are done holiday shopping by August. That type of preparation is impressive — and out of the ordinary.

Most of us don’t prepare for the holidays at work or at home until it’s too late. Unfortunately, this leaves us overly stressed, scrambling to get everything in order. When it comes to your medical sales team, getting ready for the holidays is more important than you think.

Even though 51 percent of employees say they’re more cheerful at work during the holidays, 35 percent feel more work-related pressure, according to a survey by Accountemps. So, all that cheer you see at office parties is actually being shaded by a dark cloud of workplace stress.

An overwhelming amount of work-related stress, combined with the hectic nature of the holidays, leaves productivity and sales wavering. To keep numbers up without turning into the office Grinch, medical sales leaders must look ahead and prepare for their team’s needs and stresses during the holiday season.

You can get started now with these proactive tips before this year’s festivities begin:

1. Prepare for time off.

Cookie swaps aren’t at the top of your medical sales employees’ office wish lists this year. In fact, 70 percent of respondents in a recent Randstad US report said what they love most about the holidays is time off. In addition to this, 90 percent would rather get a bonus or extra vacation days than attend a company holiday party.

Not that you can’t also spread some cheer through holiday parties — but it’s time to consider what employees really want from you this year. Of course, time off means sales reps aren’t on the road selling products. However, it also means your employees are off spending time with family, shopping, and even relaxing.

This time away, especially during such a busy time, leaves sales pros feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. When they return, they’ll be even more motivated and dedicated to exceed those sales numbers.

Start planning out holiday time off now. Send out a shared calendar so employees can add the time they’d like off. Designate a maximum number of employees allowed out at one time and when necessary, blackout dates when employees may not take off.

Once employees have these dates approved and set, dedicate a team meeting specifically for working out time-off details. Each person should have a holiday sales buddy who will step in when there’s a work emergency. Additionally, give your sales reps a one-sheeter checklist to help them prepare for a relaxing time away from the office.

2. Budget for early bonuses.

Nothing says holiday cheer like a bonus to recognize your team’s hard work. In medical sales, bonuses are especially important. Your employees work hard all year to earn their commission. Of course, there are many times when all of that work isn’t reflected in their commission due to uncontrollable client issues.

Don’t let your team wait until the end of the year to find out if they’re receiving a bonus. Money woes are enhanced during the holiday season, so receiving a bonus in November is the motivational boost many employees need.

Planning for early bonuses doesn’t just ease employees’ minds before they begin they’re holiday spending. It shows that company leaders are aware of all the undocumented, extra work everyone puts in throughout the year. Acknowledging it before you’re deep into the holiday season will decrease the dramatic dip in productivity and increase your medical sales team’s dedication.

3. Sprinkle in spirit.

You can’t ignore the holiday spirit. Even though office parties aren’t at the top of employees’ holiday lists, spirit and co-worker happiness is, according to the previously mentioned Randstad report. An inspiring 54 percent of employees say they love holiday spirit most about holidays in the workplace and 41 percent love that their co-workers are happier.

When planning for time off and budgeting in bonuses, however, the expense and time of parties is overwhelming. The good news is, you don’t need a huge holiday bash to keep employees’ spirits high. By starting the planning process now, you can add smaller ‘sprinkles’ of cheer throughout the next few months.

For team bonding, ask employees to gather toys or food for a local homeless shelter. This can go on for an entire month without interrupting workflow, while also making employees feel helpful and happy.

Also, encourage employees to share in one another’s cheer by participating in a fun, ongoing white elephant gift swap. Each employee brings in a gift to exchange with co-workers. Throughout a week, they can create a fun competition and swap gifts until the designated time is up.

No matter how you choose to keep your team’s spirits up, remember the most important gift is knowing they’re appreciated. Add a special, personalized note to a holiday card and send it home with each team member to open during their time off throughout the season.

Are you an in-office holiday prepper or are you a notorious procrastinator? We want to know!

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