How HR can help Avoid Employee Burnout this Christmas

avoid burnout and keep employee motivation high this christmas

Unsurprisingly, Christmas can turn your office, shop floor or factory, into a pressure cooker for employees – and that's without factoring in a global pandemic...

With new regulations and protocols to follow, changing demands and expectations from customers, and a possible increase in sickness leave, your people will be working hard to make the festive season as successful as possible, despite the rising difficulties that 2020 has thrown at us.

Employees that suffer burnout are 63% more likely to need time off sick, and 23% may even have to visit an emergency room.

That’s why it's crucial for HR teams to keep a close eye on employees and provide the necessary tools and support to keep everyone happy, healthy and productive.

According to Gallup, there is a misconception that more holiday time is the cure for burnout. Of course, the solution isn't so simple. Other factors play a huge role in your employees' emotional and physical wellbeing, and time off won't just tip the scales back towards motivation and productivity.

Some of the causes of burnout:

  • Unfair treatment in the workplace. 
  • Overwhelming workload.
  • Poor communication from management.
  • Unsupportive professional environment. 
  • Unrealistic deadlines.

The festive season is a terrible time to allow anyone on your team to fall victim to burnout. Not only because of the impact on output, but because it may also have more severe implications for their wellbeing in the long-term.

Planning and optimising your team's processes ahead of the Christmas period will help to ensure that things run smoothly and that employees feel energised and motivated to return in the new year.

We've got some key tips to help you keep your team aligned with the company's goals while still feeling merry and bright this festive season:

keep communicating

The feeling of being snowed under can affect everyone's ability to communicate. You know people are stressed when they're avoiding meetings and catch ups because there are a hundred other things that need their attention. 

As the year draws to a close, it may seem like a wise idea to just let everyone "get on with it". Projects need to be wrapped up, and accounts must be settled. But that's not always the right approach. In fact, communication should be ramped up during this time of year.

Managers should regularly check in with their teams to see how they're bearing under the workload and whether tasks need to be redistributed. By keeping a finger on the pulse of things, leaders will be able to pick up on any strain and come up with better solutions to help people cope. Encourage colleagues to talk to one another, send out emails and reminders, and have an open-door policy whenever someone needs to talk about a pressing matter.


If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that rigid company cultures are quick to sink.

The traditional nine to five model isn't always the most effective solution for your business or your people. With possible curfews, limited daylight hours, and people trying to avoid peak shopping hours for the sake of social distancing, your employees could be struggling to prepare for Christmas. 

From November onwards, for example, your employees might be hugely appreciative of a more flexible schedule.

Give employees the chance to tick some personal to-dos off of their lists by allowing them to go home early or arrive at work a little bit later. This means they can spend the rest of the day concentrated on work tasks instead of worrying about how they're going to squeeze everything in. 

If it's an option, you may also encourage your staff to continue working from home. This may help them to cut down on commuting costs and put more towards their Christmas budget; plus, it will also lower exposure to seasonal bugs and other 2020 unpleasantries.

encourage rest

Let's face it, no one ever got a high five for ending up in A&E from a panic attack, so it's best to make it clear to your people that self-care is more important than ever at this time of year.

Reinforcing this sentiment starts with management. If your company's leaders are demonstratively working all hours, employees may feel pressured to do the same. Model positive behaviours by encouraging rest and work-life balance

Lack of sleep is associated with a whole range of disorders such as hypertension, obesity, poor immune functioning (that's the important one this year), mood disorders and dementia – to name a few. Since issues around sleeping are part of a vicious cycle that is affected by how we spend our waking hours, employers need to create a healthy environment that neutralises tensions and supports balance.

recognise their hard work

It's natural for us to run out of steam towards the end of the year. Help to bring things into perspective by reminding your people of the goals that have been worked towards and highlight the efforts of those that have contributed towards their achievement. 

If you haven't already, focus your company culture on recognition—reward employees for engaging with your objectives. By creating an environment that nurtures the strengths of the individuals within your team and rewards them for their loyalty, input, and dedication, you can help to make the Christmas period one of true celebration. 

Christmas Reward and Recognition Solutions For advice on how to implement an effective reward and recognition scheme that  fits your budget, speak to one of our experts today - click here.

The rewards you provide should be tailored for the recipient's personal needs rather than generic, company-wide gifts that get forgotten about. This emphasises your appreciation of their specific contribution and helps to integrate the person into your company culture further.

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