If you believe everything you see in commercials on TV and retailers’ ads, the holidays are fun and joyful times that make people happy and fulfilled. The reality for many people is very different, with the stress of year-end responsibilities at work, worries about finances and buying gifts, and transitions in the weather from fall temperatures to winter cold, ice, and snow. In many businesses, the holidays are the busiest work periods of the year and bring not only revenues, but stress, depression, overeating and overspending. The Canadian Psychological Association reports that holiday stress results from unrealistic expectations. The American Psychological Association says that 22 percent of Americans feel extreme stress.
Part of what leads to those unrealistic expectations is the anticipation of the holidays because of retailer and media hype that seems to start earlier every year. The good news is that because the holidays are on the calendar around the same time every year, people have advance notice and can plan for things like coping strategies, focusing on relationships, and taking care of themselves. For the same reason, the holidays present a good opportunity for employers to help employees manage holiday stress.
A Consumer Reports survey reports that what people dread most during the holidays are: 1. crowds and long lines, 2. gaining weight, and 3. going into debt. Other holiday stressors identified in the research include shopping for gifts, having to be nice, and holiday parties and events. While employers can’t eliminate all holiday stressors from their employees’ lives, there are a lot of simple things employers can do to provide some stress relief and enable employees to stay productive at work while enjoying the holidays.
Issue a Holiday Work Schedule
Make sure employees know well in advance what their work schedule will be during the holidays, as well as any changes in business hours. Many people travel or have house guests for the holidays and knowing work obligations for this time helps them make arrangements and plans for these activities.
Offer Schedule Flexibility for the Holidays
Give employees some schedule options such as double shifts, split shifts, shared or swapped shifts to give them flexibility for holiday shopping and preparations.
Sometimes the biggest help a manager can provide is taking the time to listen. You’ll be amazed what you can learn about what would help employees to be successful and happy at work.
Bring on the Stress Busters
Offer some fun at work during the holidays to relieve the tension. Cater a festive afternoon break, host a holiday movie at the end of day and make it a pot-luck event (you could even invite families) or find a communal space and provide creative materials for colleagues to make and sending festive holiday “thank you” cards to customers. Better yet, ask co-workers what would be fun or relaxing this time of year.
Employers can take the edge off their employees’ holiday stress by listening to employee needs and offering fun and/or relaxing activities at the office. And, by helping employees during the holidays, it helps build a culture of appreciation and strengthens workplace relationships.
We wish you a most happy and peaceful holiday season!
To build a culture of appreciation in your business, be sure to download our FREE eBook, “Workplace Gratitude”. Click the image below to download this guide now.
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