Help Employees Reduce Holiday Stress

Flickr/Topgold, Creative Commons

Yes, we are well into that whirlwind commonly known in North America as “The Holidays.” Beginning in late November, with Thanksgiving, and stretching through to New Year’s Day, it encompasses mayhem, merriment and sometimes a little melancholy.

It also ushers in a stretch of stress-inducing chaos, heightened expectations and the inevitable let-down that follows.  As usual, the workplace is not immune to life outside the office.  Throughout December, one of the biggest workplace challenges is dealing with employee stress caused by overloaded schedules, mile-long to-do lists, extreme social commitments and money management issues.

Relieving Workplace Stress during the Holidays

There are a number of things that employers can do to help alleviate the stress of the holiday season for their employees. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

Flickr/Eljay, Creative Commons
  1. Be hands-on: Hire a massage therapist to provide neck and shoulder massages to employees at their desks.  This is a great 10-minute tension reliever that will be greatly appreciated.
  2. Flex a little: If flexible work hours are not usually an option, make an exception at this time of the year. Being able to come in late or leave early one or two days a week can help employees deal with the many extra tasks on their plate, while providing a welcome break from routine. 
  3. Schedule some fun: One of the greatest stress relievers of all is play. Involve physical movement for best results and build in some friendly competition to really engage people. Depending on your space and work environment, anything from go-cart races to a Wii baseball competition can blow away stress.
  4. Nourish them: Provide a few healthy lunches and/or have nutritious snacks readily available. Make sure there is lots of water on hand. Good diet and nutrition are among the first casualties at this time of the year, which puts stress on the body, the mind and the immune system. You can help by providing some balance.
  5. Make them laugh: Laughter reduces stress and soothes tension. It also bolsters the immune system and relieves pain. The old adage “laughter is the best medicine” may actually be true!  Actively build laughter into the workday. You might have employees share funny holiday video clips and vote on the funniest or have a “biggest holiday fail” contest with each employee taking a turn to share a story.
  6. Remember the Platinum Rule: If gifts or bonuses are part of your company’s holiday tradition, make sure to ask your employees what they prefer. Maybe paid time off would be more valuable than a gift or bonus.  If you’re thinking they shouldn’t “look a gift horse in the mouth,” consider (for example) the single, vegetarian employee’s reaction to a free turkey!

Making an effort to help your employees deal with the stress of the holiday season will demonstrate your commitment to their well-being and help them through a challenging time. In return, they will be less stressed, more engaged, and healthier into the New Year.

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