For many businesses, the holiday season brings an almost ‘perfect storm’ of challenges that have the potential to negatively impact information security and productivity. From increased time off (including your IT staff), to people using personal devices to access the corporate network, to online shopping at work….well, you get the idea. Here are a few tips to help your business stay both secure and productive during the season.

Tips to Stay Secure

Stay informed. Ensure your IT team has adequate coverage to continue listening for both signals of breaches (from inside and outside) and warnings regarding newly discovered security vulnerabilities. While businesses, especially retailers, may be in the midst of an ‘IT freeze’ during this big-shopping season, it pays to take heed of emerging vulnerabilities and find ways to address any that arise.

Craft a plan. With many employees taking increased vacation time, put a crisis communications plan in place well before people punch out. This plan should address the  process for IT staff – whether in-office or on-call – to report a security breach and the plan for senior leadership to respond.

Run a drill. This is a great time to remind employees about email phishing scams. Run a phishing drill to keep this potential cyber breach tactic top of mind.

Vet your giving. This time of year often spurs charitable giving, and there are many scams afoot to take advantage. Ensure your business – and your employees – take advantage of charitable rating services and other forms of due diligence to ensure help is going to those in need.

Send reminders. Use the holiday season to send security reminders to help employees during both business and personal time. Warnings about not using public wi-fi to access network resources, not using a work email to sign up for deals or accounts, and how to identify secure payment sites can help employees in and out of work.

Involve the whole team. Ensure security guidelines and procedures are shared with everyone in the organization, including the temp and seasonal employees you may have brought on during the holidays.

Tips to Maintain Productivity

Continue to measure. However you are currently measuring productivity, continue to use these methods through the holiday season. Not only can this alert you to abnormal issues or greater-than-expected productivity dips, but the data will also provide valuable insight to use in future planning and staffing. Active vs. idle time analysis and application monitoring to determine use of ‘productive’ applications can be particularly helpful.

Set goals for year end – and year start.  It is possible for festivity and performance to co-exist. Help employees ‘keep an eye on the prize’ by prominently sharing goals. Setting a target encourages the organization overall to recognize the desired end state and pull together to reach the finish line. And year end is a great time to share additional reminders regarding the expectations for January – and beyond.

Use competition. Along with goals, consider introducing a bit of competition to encourage meeting the goals. You can post a leaderboard of top-performing teams or individuals, or share key wins in a company-wide email. Many people are positively motivated with competition, and the rewards you share with those who excel can be a great gift during the season.

Prepare for a dip. Finally, a reduction in output is highly likely given an increase in vacation time. Realizing this and accepting the fact may go a long way to reducing frustration.

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