Holiday stress is upon us in full force now. While the holidays are supposed to be a joyous time – and for many people they are – HR has to keep in mind the holidays also bring a lot of stress with them, even in the workplace.
Before the pandemic hit, about 50% of women and 30% of men said they had increased stress during the holidays, according to the American Psychological Association.
With people taking time off to celebrate with their families, the people who are left in the workplace often have even more to do with shorter deadlines.
Then there’s the issue of everything costing more this year, and the added pressure of buying gifts for people, and the stress escalates.
Not to mention the fact there are people mourning the loss of a loved one and those who don’t have anyone.
All that stress can take a huge toll on people and affect their work and productivity.
It’s important for HR pros and managers to keep an eye out for people who may be suffering this holiday season and help them out.
Signs of holiday stress
Here are key signs you can look for that indicate an employee is struggling with holiday stress:
- Personality changes – becoming withdrawn or unusually irritable
- Physical appearance changes
- Lack of focus
- Missed deadlines
- Diminished quality of work, and
The earlier HR and managers spot these signs, the faster they can step in and help guide these people to helpful resources.
Managing holiday stress
So what can you do to help employees manage holiday stress while handling open enrollment and other end-of-year HR tasks?
For one, encourage managers and supervisors to prioritize projects. If employees know what must be done and by when they can better organize tasks.
Another key is to encourage employees to reach out to each other to offer or ask for help. People are often busy at different times of the year, so departments that work together to get projects done have happier, less-stressed employees.
Suggest employees take a walk or meditate in a quiet meeting room when they’re feeling overwhelmed with work or life.
Finally, keep holiday celebrations gift free. In fact, instead of holiday celebrations have end-of-year celebrations or employee appreciation celebrations.
4 work habits to help reduce stress
Here are four work habits you can provide your employees to help them get through the holiday season with less stress:
- Check in with yourself. Take time every morning to organize your day and assess your limits. People often overextend themselves during the holiday season. Know what you can and can’t do in a 12-hour day. Build some time in your day for yourself and completely disconnect from work.
- Give yourself little gifts at work. Build in time before, during or after lunch for little gifts of self-care. It could be a short walk, a 10-minute power nap, stretching, a chair massage, reading a good book or even socializing. Giving yourself these small breaks is a great way to reduce stress.
- Let yourself know your feelings are OK. Whether the holidays make you happy or sad, know it’s OK to feel that way. You don’t have to pretend. This time of year can bring up a lot of feelings – good and bad. There’s nothing wrong with feeling the way you do. Accepting your feelings takes the pressure off to be happy all the time.
- Don’t go it alone. If the holidays aren’t a good time for you, don’t isolate yourself. Seek help through a trusted friend, loved one or a professional.