Along with parties, Secret Santas and cookie exchanges, this time of year comes with increased stress as employees attempt to balance their workload with holiday shopping and social events.
Holiday stress invades offices and cubicles, causing productivity to plummet as employees’ focus shifts from work to holiday happenings – making travel arrangements, buying gifts, planning social gatherings and juggling the extra expenses of the season. Rick Gibbs, performance specialist with Insperity, a human resources and business performance firm, says business owners need to anticipate the invasion of holiday stress into the workplace, but with a little bit of planning, you can help prevent the stress of the season from destroying productivity.
The holidays cause everyone’s schedules to fill up. “Keep in mind that people do have personal events that they do during the holidays,” says Gibbs. Offering employees flex time so they can run their holiday errands and leave early to attend children’s holiday concerts will help to ensure employees stay on task while they’re at the office.
Gibbs recommends getting out the holiday calendar ahead of the season to plan your workload and employees’ holiday schedules. Sit down with your team, allowing everyone input into what will happen during the season. Simply allowing employees to be involved in holiday planning, Gibbs says, can help reduce their stress. “It gives people a degree of control over their time,” he says.
Amidst the busy-ness of the holiday season, making the workplace a fun place to be can help boost employee productivity. While employee-assistance programs that offer stress-management tactics can help employees deal with the additional stress the holidays bring, social activities that encourage employees to get together can help boost morale. Giving employees the opportunity to give back by participating in a charitable event is a great way to lower stress. “Research shows one of the best ways to boost people’s well-being is to do something for someone else,” says Gibbs.
Set the tone.
Set realistic expectations for the workload employees are expected to carry during the holidays. Gibbs says company owners and managers need to set the tone by adopting a more relaxed work schedule during the holidays. “If you’re a workaholic who arrives early and leaves late, people will have a hard time taking flex time. They’ll have an expectation that they will be expected to do the same thing,” says Gibbs.
Reflect and look ahead.
“The end of the year is a good time to stop and be grateful,” says Gibbs. Take some time to reflect on the previous year and celebrate the accomplishments of your team. Expressing gratitude to employees who have helped you achieve your goals can help give your team the motivation they need to move into the next year with high spirits.