The holiday season is upon us; many of our colleagues at work are already making plans to travel or catch up with family and friends. The season is supposed to be a time to simply unwind and relax from all of the year’s work; but for many people, it’s the opposite as preparation and activities during this season can be pretty overwhelming.
While employees face stress at work all year round, employee stress levels are more heightened during the holidays. A poll by the American Psychological Association found that nearly a quarter of Americans reported experiencing extreme stress during the holiday season, with 69 percent of them citing lack of time as the primary cause of stress; 69 percent report being stressed by a perceived lack of money, and; 51 percent report being stressed by the pressure to get or give gifts.
Even more distressing is a survey by Think Finance reveals that more than 45 percent of Americans would rather skip Christmas altogether.
For many employees, balancing holiday activities with work duties, coming back from the holidays to meet heavy workload, and having to set aside cash for the holidays are among the biggest stressors this season. But there are many ways employers can support their workers through this period to alleviate their stress and enjoy the holidays.
Here are some recommendations:
Embrace the Holiday Spirit
One great way to liven your employees up this season is by getting involved and embracing the festive spirit.
A great way to do this is to book in a small office party or a get-together. Get your employees to interact with one another in the spirit of the season. This reduces workplace tension and helps your employees unwind.
If this sounds a little cliche for you, consider giving your workers the opportunities to give back to the community. This could be done by offering charitable donations to the community or volunteering for a worthy cause.
These initiatives not only help your employees ease off, but also make them feel motivated, energized, and appreciated.
Appreciating and recognizing your workers may be one of the best gifts you may give them for Christmas. Recognizing a worker has a strong potential to improve motivation, drive engagement, and improve his or her mental wellbeing.
The Boston Consulting Group conducted an online survey of 200,000 employees from 189 countries, which revealed that the single most important job element globally is an appreciation for an employee’s work. It further found that appreciation was the top factor for happiness on the job, ahead of a pay raise and promotion.
You may offer non-financial Christmas perks, such as a ‘thank you’ note or a day or two off work (outside one’s annual leave), or financial incentives such as a bonus as a way to show your appreciation for their efforts. This goes a long way to ease work-related stress and keep your workers feeling good about themselves.
Offer Flexible Work Schedules
If there’s anything your workers would want more of this holiday season, it’s time. There is a whole lot of activities to plan for and engage in this holiday that giving them some space or time away from work will go a long way in alleviating their stress levels.
A few approaches to this include providing extended breaks in the weeks before the holidays, shorter work-hours to enable workers to leave for home early, and telecommuting for some workers.
Not only will your employees appreciate the flexibility of their schedule during the holiday, but it will also help them engage better when working.
Provide Tips for Time Management
Do not leave your employees all alone struggling to keep up with their growing holiday to-do-lists; help them with recommendations to manage their time effectively.
While holiday errands and obligations may seem overwhelming, they can be properly managed if achievable goals can be set around them. This is where you come in. Encourage your employees to set measurable goals and keep track of tasks completed. Furthermore, remind them that not all holiday errands and activities may be necessary. This helps them determine what may need to be struck off the list to save time.
Furthermore, help your workers manage their time at work by getting them to focus only on core tasks at work. You can reschedule all non-essential projects or meetings that are tangential to your organization’s year-end goals.
Encourage Healthy Diet Choices
It may be quite challenging for many people to stick with a healthy diet during the holiday season; many indulge their sugar cravings to relish lots of carbs and cookies, while others binge-drink with friends.
To help employees stay healthy this season, encourage them to make healthier diet choices. A few approaches to this include offering healthy snacks, fruits, and veggies; inviting a local chef to provide ideas for preparing healthy foods, or; sending them notes on food items and their respective health benefits or risks.
Not only will healthy food choices make workers feel more energized and refreshed, but it also lowers their risk of chronic diseases, which are one of the major contributors to workplace stress.
Keep January in Mind
Uncertainty about work, financial concerns, and the distress of returning to work after the holidays - the so-called ‘January blues’ - can cause undue stress during the holidays. Creating a workable ‘Return to Work’ may be your best bet to getting your employees to get back into the swing of things in January
One way to do this is by encouraging employees to create a ‘to-do-list’ for tasks they need to complete in the first few days of work. It would also help to get managers and supervisors involved to communicate New Year changes or initiatives early enough so staff can get themselves mentally prepared before they are implemented.
The festive period can be an enjoyable time of the year; however, it could also be overwhelming, with people absorbed in holiday errands and activities. Therefore, employers have a duty of care to their workers, to provide them with the right support and tools to prevent unnecessary stress in the yuletide.