holiday stress in the workplace

Eight tips for managing holiday stress in the workplace

Holiday Stress is here…As if 2021 hasn’t been difficult enough, the majority of Americans are bracing for additional worry and tension this holiday season. But there are solutions.

In a normal year, almost half of all women and a third of men say they are more stressed around the holidays (Source: American Psychological Association). There are the usual pressures—cooking elaborate meals, being with relatives you haven’t seen for a while, buying the perfect gifts, and family outings when schools are closed. Even for those who love these activities, they do create a longer to-do list.

This year, add pandemic-related matters into the mix.

Supplies are down and prices are up, making this a more worrisome year financially. Labor shortages mean longer waits at the checkout line. Vaccination concerns, mask-wearing decisions, political differences and last-minute cancellations because someone tests positive can cause family tensions.

A recent survey found that 53% of Americans think holiday stress will double this Thanksgiving because of the pandemic (Source: HelloFresh).

That’s why it’s more important than ever for business owners and managers to be aware of what their employees are going through, and tune in to their own feelings and state of mind.

From a business perspective end-of-year obligations like closing the books, gifts for clients and finalizing 2022 plans may pull you away from other business priorities. Holiday-shortened deadlines and employee PTO make this time of year challenging from a staffing perspective. Ongoing COVID-19 outcomes like unfilled positions and parents staying home with kids due to school outbreaks don’t help.

Despite the tensions, despite the lack of sleep, this is still the holiday season and there’s much to look forward to if you have the right mindset and do the right thing. Here are some practical ideas to help both you and your employees.

Keep morale up and tension down

Keep morale up and tension down

Be extra flexible with team members: In addition to holiday stress, many people are feeling vulnerable, burned out, anxious and lonely. They may be suffering the loss of a loved one to COVID or another illness and this might be the first holiday without mom, without a spouse, without a dear friend. Now is not the time to be critical, increase demands, or throw new deadlines at employees. Go easy.

Demonstrate concern for staff: Having compassion for those suffering loss, stress or loneliness will not only be valued by employees, but it will also be rewarded with loyalty and productivity. It’s as simple as asking the question “how are you doing,” and then listening with intention.

Redistribute the workload: Everyone is trying to get things done for the end of the year, and no doubt some departments in your business are busier than others. You can lighten the burden of your busiest team members by spreading the workload as much as possible. This helps ensure that some staff aren’t working extra long hours while others are keeping normal schedules. An added benefit: cross-training employees gives your business additional flexibility and it helps everyone appreciate the talents and contributions of their peers.

Celebrate and express gratitude: At NEMR Total HR, we always do a little holiday get together and we cater some meals during the stressful holiday period to cultivate a sense of teamwork and togetherness. At Thanksgiving, we buy holiday pies for the staff to show our appreciation, and if we’re able to do it fiscally we have a PTO buyback program and reward our team with year-end bonuses. We know that employees want to be home with their families during the holidays so we let them leave early to get a head start on their celebrations.

Self-care is essential

Self-care is essential

Carve out time for fun—just for you: It’s easy to lose yourself with so many obligations at work and at home. Think about activities you love and that give you energy and add at least one to your calendar. Whether it’s seeing a show or your favorite sports team or a night out with the guys or girls, a non-business, non-family related outing will help you refresh and refocus.

Care for your health: It goes without saying that your health is paramount. Remember that you are not only busy but you are also likely carrying some emotional burdens of employees and family members. Exercise and healthy eating are difficult when your plate is full and holiday treats are plentiful, but they are essential.

Disconnect for 24 hours: Unplugging can clear your head and give you a fresh perspective. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider taking a break and spending time in nature. Put someone else in charge. It’s pretty amazing how one mental health day can amp up your energy.

Be in the moment with family: Do you find yourself distracted, thinking about your business when you could be focusing on your spouse and children? If there’s one thing COVID-19 has taught is, it’s that life is short. Be present, experience family moments fully and relish them.

Creating a work environment that alleviates holiday stress is key to employee morale and productivity. If you need assistance with the complex HR issues, an expert advisor like NEMR Total HR can guide you. Chat Live with us to learn more or Email Us.