‘Tis the season to help staff manage festive stress

The advent calendars are out; radio stations are digging out the Christmas classics; and the shops are in full-blown selling mode.

It can only mean one thing: The holiday season is well and truly upon us.

But while there’s much to celebrate and be grateful for, most people endure a great deal of stress during this time of year as well.

According to a recent survey in Healthline, 60% of respondents said they experienced some level of stress during the holidays.

And with workplace stress at an all-time high, the cost of living rising, Covid-19 still impacting the world and a recession looming, employees are unsurprisingly feeling under pressure.

So what is it that companies and leaders can do to improve employee wellbeing at this specific time of the year?

Here are a number of strategies to consider implementing:

Provide extra flexibility during the holiday season

77% of workers say they have a very hard time relaxing during the holidays, and usually end up feeling more stressed and worn down than ever

Regardless of current workplace polices around in-person, remote or hybrid work, allowing staff to choose the options that work for them during the holiday season could help ease stress and increase productivity.

For example, if employees want to work from a different location, want to work remotely, or come into the office during certain hours and work remotely during other hours, they may feel less overwhelmed and more in control of their schedule and work. They’ll also be able to better balance personal, family and holiday-related obligations in addition to work responsibilities.

But…

Be sure to clearly communicate the timeframe during which there will be extra flexibility. If this is a Christmas exception, communicate this explicitly so there won’t be any confusion with the regular policies during the rest of the year.

Encourage employees to take their paid time off to rest and recharge

 43% of workers say their schedules become jam-packed during the holidays, and 59% would characterize their typical holiday season as “chaotic.”

Given work and home life have become blurred for so many people since the pandemic, it’s important for employees to create some boundaries and take time out for themselves.

The holidays are a perfect time to encourage staff to plan a vacation, travel or take a staycation and enjoy the comforts of home. The pandemic made it extremely difficult for people to travel over the last few years, which is why it’s important to encourage employees to use their paid time off and take a break.

Consider this…

Leaders should consider taking their own paid time off as well, to set an example for the rest of the company.

As long as workload, division of labor, deadlines and company goals are clearly communicated, understood and accounted for as the end of the year approaches, taking time off should be encouraged and highlighted in a positive way from the top down.

Offer holistic wellness resources virtually and onsite

88% of workers believe the holidays are the most stressful time of the year. Excessive feelings of stress start as early as November (84%), and a majority of that group say their stress usually peaks in late November.

Providing employees with resources that encourage physical fitness, stress management, positive mental health, mindfulness, healthy eating, financial planning, sleep and more, can have a positive impact on employee wellbeing, especially during the festive season. Whether this includes livestream classes, virtual workshops, online coaching, challenges or in-person sessions, employees will have the ability to tend to their wellbeing in ways that work best for them, which will positively impact their work performance as well.

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In order to create the most robust and effective selection of wellness resources, tools and programs, send out a survey to gauge the current state of employee mental and physical health, especially as we go into this holiday season.

Remember…

Survey results can provide important data and insights, which can be used even after the holidays.

Create a positive and uplifting work culture during the holidays and beyond

Instead of the workplace being yet another source of stress, it should be a place that makes employees feel capable, successful and recognized, even in the midst of end of year deadlines, revenue targets and holiday hustle and bustle.

It should also be a place of fun and celebration during the holidays to balance out the seriousness of heavy workloads and challenging goals.

So, create holiday contests, raffles, giveaways and prizes. Encourage employees to focus on gratitude and perform kind gestures for their coworkers in the office or virtually over Zoom.

Develop end of year awards and recognition for those employees who are leaders, collaborators and contributors to the company’s success. Highlight employee strengths and talents for empowerment and motivation.

The more employees feel valued at this time of year, the more they’ll perform well for the New Year and beyond.

While it’s a busy and stressful time of year, companies have the ability to create flexibility and develop resources, tools, programs and cultures that support positive employee wellbeing. And if done correctly, many of these strategies can be used throughout the year to keep employees motivated, engaged, productive and loyal!

Source: Priory Private Healthcare

Reena Vokoun is an entrepreneur, TEDx speaker, author, public speaker, content creator, and professional development coach and consultant and certified health and wellness expert through AFAA, ACE, IDEA Fitness and Gallup.

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