The holiday season, while festive and joyous for many, can also bring heightened stress and challenges for employees. Research indicates that over half of U.S. workers experience negative impacts on their mental health during this time. Stress levels are higher due to year-end deadlines, financial pressures, and increased social obligations.
As employers and HR leaders, addressing this issue is crucial for both the wellbeing of employees and for maintaining productivity and engagement. Here are 10 tips to help alleviate employee stress during the holiday season:
1. Promote Financial Education
Remind employees about available financial education offerings to assist them with holiday budget concerns. Many employees are already stressed about finances, and the holidays can exacerbate these worries. Highlighting financial wellness programs can provide valuable resources for budgeting, saving, and managing expenses.
2. Manage Workload Expectations
Acknowledge employees’ increased workloads, especially with looming end-of-year deadlines. Leaders should engage in regular check-ins, creating an open dialogue about workload challenges. Offering support, flexible schedules, and additional resources can help employees manage stress during this hectic time.
3. Emphasize Mental Health Support
Increase communication about mental health tips and available resources within the company. Encourage employees to utilize wellness programs such as employee assistance programs. Consider providing on-site wellbeing advisers to support individuals.
4. Promote Paid Time Off
Encourage employees to take advantage of paid time off and truly step away from work. Emphasize that working on days off is not required so employees feel supported in taking time for themselves. Leading by example, managers should refrain from checking emails while on PTO.
5. Address Health Concerns
Address health concerns like the spread of illnesses like COVID-19, flu, etc. Encourage remote work or the use of PTO when employees are unwell to prevent the spread of illness in the workplace. Make office holiday parties optional to accommodate varying comfort levels.
6. Consider a Companywide Break
Explore the possibility of a companywide break during the holiday season. Shutting down operations and allowing employees to take the same time off can significantly reduce stress. While planning may be required, it can be a proactive approach to prioritizing employee wellbeing.
7. Flexible Holiday Gatherings
Recognize that holiday parties may cause stress for some employees. Offer choices for celebrations, allowing employees to participate based on their preferences. Ensure events are inclusive and accessible to all, considering the needs of employees with disabilities and diverse backgrounds.
8. Encourage Giving Back
Provide opportunities for employees to volunteer or engage in charitable activities. Offering a day of PTO for volunteering can contribute to a sense of community and wellbeing. People love being able to give back to causes they are passionate about.
9. Acknowledge Unique Situations
Understand that the holidays can be challenging for various reasons, including personal losses and feelings of loneliness. Be empathetic and aware of diverse experiences. Train managers to recognize signs of stress and anxiety so they can foster a supportive workplace culture.
10. Celebrate Employees
Show appreciation for employees’ contributions during the holidays. While gifts like bonuses and extra PTO are valuable, simple gestures such as personalized eCards or in-person recognition can go a long way in boosting morale and confidence.
While employee wellbeing matters all the time, you should put a larger focus on it during the holiday season. It is not only a compassionate approach, but also a strategic investment in maintaining a motivated and dedicated workforce.