The holiday season can be a stressful time for many people. According to a Sleepopolis survey, eight out of ten Americans feel extra stress during the holidays. What’s more, nearly a third (28.2 percent) report less sleep as well.
And, of course, your employees are no exception.
Holiday events, deadlines, and budgeting holiday spending can all cause mental and physical stress. The good news is that, as an employer, you can take steps to help your employees de-stress and improve their overall well-being during the holidays.
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Our employees suggested one thing — and it has helped a lot! To help de-stress our employees, we have our big holiday bash in January. This has been a significant stress reliever for our team through the years. Another is to talk openly about personal responsibility in managing one’s own stress. Another stress helper is to ensure all company leadership people keep stress down — so they are not passing toxic stuff around to other employees. This means — be fun and funny and letting things go that really don’t matter.
1. Create a flexible scheduling plan in advance.
It’s no secret that businesses require adequate holiday coverage- primarily if your business relies on customer support and production scheduling. At the same time, employees often want time off, whether it’s for a vacation, holidays with family, or social functions.
The answer? Plan your employees’ time away from the office early by setting up a clear holiday schedule for your business.
Moreover, you should set early deadlines for holiday time-off requests. By doing so, managers will have enough time to review scheduling needs and make arrangements wherever possible. There isn’t always a way to make everyone happy, but communication and adequate lead time can increase the likelihood that your employees will be happy and productive.
Be sure to ask your team member about their preferences, as well. For example, you can ask for volunteers if you need coverage for a holiday period. It is possible that some employees would instead work during that time and take alternative days off when it is more convenient for them to do so.
2. Keep an eye on your team’s workload.
You should be realistic about how much work you will ask your employees to do during the holiday season. In other words, consider your employees’ current workloads and extra demands when evaluating expectations.
Workloads can be efficiently managed, and realistic expectations and deadlines can be set to prevent employees from feeling overwhelmed. Furthermore, employees can voice their concerns and receive support through one-on-one communications.
3. Identify work priorities.
You can reduce employee stress by reminding employees what’s most important to accomplish during the holiday season. Adjust deadlines for lesser projects if necessary to relieve stress from meeting near-impossible deadlines.
In case your employees need assistance, here are some tips on how to prioritize:
- Create a task list. All tasks should be included in one place.
- Identify goals. Take into account time, money, business practices, and external assistance.
- Prioritize tasks. The amount of effort, importance, urgency, and value should be taken into account.
- Use relative prioritization. Identify the most critical tasks and compare them.
- Use a priority matrix. Don’t waste your time on tasks that aren’t valuable and require little effort.
- Establish delegated tasks. To make delegation easier, clearly define tasks.
- Create a schedule. Stay on top of deadlines and stay on top of your schedule.
4. Offer employee assistance programs (EAPs).
An employee assistance program (EAP) provides employees with resources and support for personal issues. Ideally, the goal is to help employees resolve issues before they harm their performance at work. An EAP usually comes as part of a broader benefits package.
EAPs can help with a variety of issues, including:
- Issues related to mental health
- Financial help
- Improving work relationships
- Occupational stress
- Performance improvement
- Substance abuse
- Major life events
5. Make flexible work arrangements available.
Flexibility should be given to your employees so they can take time off as needed. You may be able to offer flextime, compressed workweeks, or telecommuting options in addition to this.
It might also be a good idea to allow team members to take time off before or after the holidays if required. Traditional holiday pay policies often need employees to work the day before or after a holiday to qualify. In some cases, however, employees may require time before or after the holiday to prepare for or recover from it. If you give them that time, their stress level may decrease.
6. Organize holiday events.
Make sure your employees have fun and socialize at festive events. A company-sponsored holiday party, a Secret Santa gift exchange, or a potluck are all possibilities.
However, instead of throwing extravagant parties, which can be a source of stress for companies, businesses find small ways to celebrate the winter holiday season. A celebration can take many forms, such as providing an extra day off, celebrating the previous year’s achievements, giving small gifts, or cash bonuses. Some opt for an after-hours holiday party or a company-catered lunch.
In order to determine what is best for your company, you need to assess your culture, workforce, and budget. You can make a real difference by acknowledging your team’s contributions throughout the year, thanking them for their efforts, and conveying your excitement about the year ahead.
7. Don’t be stingy saying “thank you.”
At this time of year, people tend to overextend themselves. Despite this, you should still make sure you acknowledge and thank their good work. Saying a sincere “thank you” to your employees can help them feel recognized and valued. It can also build trust, improve well-being, and reduce stress.
Also, don’t forget to contact staff members who have lost a loved one this year or those with little or no family in the area if they need extra encouragement or support. When it comes to bolstering the health and wellness of your team, it’s essential to let them know that you care about them.
8. Promote healthy habits.
We often associate the winter months with sickness. And for good reason. A whirlwind social schedule is a recipe for getting sick, coupled with frigid temperatures, irregular sleep patterns, and too many glasses of wine.
However, that’s not all. In addition, there is the Christmas Holiday Effect to consider.
During the holidays, the Christmas Effect can cause mood swings or behavioral changes. This term was first used in the Journal of Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience in 2011. Holiday depression, substance abuse, and isolation were originally described as mental health issues that could worsen during the holidays.
There is also an increase in cardiovascular mortality during the holidays, which is referred to as the Christmas Effect. In a study conducted in the United States, deaths increased by 4.2% from December 25 to January 7. In addition, the study found that there were 26 excess death cases, 188 excess hospitalizations, and 483 excess visits to emergency rooms per 100,000 patients.
Despite not being entirely within your control, employers can encourage healthy habits at work in a variety of ways, such as:
- Mental health. Providing flexible hours or home-based part-time work can improve their work-life balance.
- Smoke-free workplace. This ensures a healthy environment for everyone.
- Gym membership. Organize a group exercise class or gym on site.
- Physical activity. Physical activity and regular breaks should be encouraged.
- Healthy lunches and snacks. Provide employees with healthy lunches and snacks to keep them energized.
- Health screenings. To identify health risks, provide on-site or off-site screenings.
9. Be mindful of communication.
Make sure you do not send emails after hours or make requests after work hours since this can add to your employees’ stress levels. Communicate clearly and concisely, and don’t change deadlines or schedules last minute.
10. Set a positive example.
You can set an example for your employees by taking care of your well-being. As a result, the workplace can develop a wellness culture.
Aside from these tips, you can also create a more festive work environment during the holidays. You may want to play holiday music, decorate the office, and provide snacks and drinks during the holiday season.
It is possible to create a more positive and productive work environment by helping your employees de-stress during the holidays. The result will be a win-win for you, your employees, and your customers.
Lastly, here are a few additional resources you might find useful:
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- American Psychological Association (APA)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
What are some of the most common sources of holiday stress for employees?
During the holiday season, many people can experience joy, celebration, and stress. Holiday stress can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Increased workload and deadlines. Businesses are often busy during the holiday season, and employees may feel pressure to meet deadlines and complete projects before the year ends.
- Financial strain. Buying gifts and travel during the holidays can be costly, and employees may feel stressed about the cost.
- Family obligation. Attending family gatherings, visiting relatives, and caring for children may interfere with the employee’s work obligations.
- Social pressure. Social expectations may lead employees to feel pressure to attend parties, give gifts, and express happiness during the holidays.
- Illnesses. Employees are exposed to more germs because of changing weather, frequent gatherings, and increased shopping. An illness increases absences and decreases productivity at work, adding to the workplace’s stress level.
- Grief and loss. It can be challenging for grieving people during the holidays.
- EOY burnout. Meeting life’s demands during a calendar year is rewarding and exhausting. As employees try to wrap up year-end requirements, the year’s final days can feel like an extra burden.
Why is it essential for employers to help their employees de-stress during the holidays?
Again, for many people, the holiday season can be stressful. Holiday pressures such as finding the perfect gift, attending social events, and maintaining the ideal holiday can lead to anxiety, depression, and burnout. As a result, employees’ mental and physical health may suffer, as well as their productivity at work.
What are some signs that your employees may be stressed during the holidays?
- Anxiety or irritability.
- Inability to concentrate or make decisions.
- Appetite or sleep changes.
- Isolation or social withdrawal.
- An increase in absenteeism or presenteeism
How can employees manage their own stress during the holidays?
During the holidays, employees can manage their own stress in several ways, including:
- Set realistic expectations. Be careful not to overdo it, even if that means declining some invitations or activities.
- Create a budget. By doing this, you can avoid overspending and financial stress.
- Prioritize time for yourself. Invest time in activities you enjoy, such as reading, walking, and spending time with family.
- Take breaks. Every hour or so, get up and move around. Spend a few minutes stretching, walking outside, or clearing your mind.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Among these options are deep breathing, meditation, and yoga.
- Seek professional help if needed. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you feel overwhelmed by stress.
Image Credit: Photo by Oliver Sjöström; Pexels