The holidays are the busiest time of the year — and not just in terms of the work, but in terms of employees’ personal lives. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 38 percent of people reported higher stress levels around the holiday season; women, the report continues, are more likely than men to feel that stress levels increase around the holidays.
To help employees feel less stressed — and be more productive — during this hectic time of year, it’s important to make some adjustments and put their wellbeing first.
- Be flexible with schedules.
The APA survey showed that the biggest stressor for employees during the holiday season concerned their schedules: 34 percent worried that work obligations would encroach upon their personal holiday celebrations, while 31 percent stressed that they wouldn’t get enough time off.
To reduce this stress, offer more flexible hours, reduced hours and, in some cases, the opportunity to telecommute. Allow employees to arrive and leave work early to accommodate their holiday responsibilities or, for those who can’t afford to alter schedules, allow employees to complete some holiday obligations — such as shopping for gifts and running errands — while on the job.
- Relax the dress code.
If your workplace requires dress shirts and suits, think about relaxing the dress code for a while around the holidays. Let employees wear jeans and (appropriate) shirts — it’s one fewer thing they have to think about in the morning, and they can feel a little more at ease around the office.
- Offer extra shifts.
Finances top even workplace stress — but financial issues are, of course, intertwined with work. The APA survey showed that 28 percent of employees fear they won’t get paid enough to afford the holidays. Offer these employees extra shifts, especially those that cover employees who are absent due to the holiday.
However, ensure that employees aren’t taking on too many extra hours. While earning the extra money can alleviate one aspect of holiday stress, it can heighten another: too many working hours.
- Organize smart holiday parties.
Nearly a quarter of employees reported that during the holidays, there was too much pressure to participate in holiday parties at the office. Additionally, 20 percent said they felt too much pressure to buy gifts for coworkers.
Schedule any holiday parties during normal business hours so that employees don’t have to take time out of their personal schedules. As for the gifts, organize a company-wide gift exchange at the holiday party. Gift exchanges take the pressure off of personal gifts within departments, and often stays within a reasonable price range.
There are a few options for gift exchanges in the workplace: Secret Santa, though this may add pressure depending on the people involved, a White Elephant Gift Exchange, or a simple gift grab. Alternatively, discourage gift-giving among employees completely and present each employee with a company gift.
- Keep an eye on stress levels.
An employer should be aware that the holiday season may increase stress levels in some employees. Ensure that all managers are aware of the signs of stress, and instruct them to properly intervene when necessary. Offering outside assistance, such as corporate wellbeing programs, can help employees manage stress during the holidays and throughout the year.