How to Combat Christmas Stress in Your Workforce

Christmas is usually a wonderful time of year

But it can cause stress too, but there are things you can do about it! 

The festive period is usually a time for celebration, with time spent with friends and family, Christmas treats and activities. But, there's also pressure to meet deadlines, end-of-year targets to hit and plenty of things to do at home, your workforce could be feeling stressed. 

According to the Health and Safety Executive, almost half of all work-related ill health cases in 2019/2020 were caused by stress, depression or anxiety. Having too much pressure or stress at work can lead to bigger problems for your employees, including burnout

Combating Christmas stress is essential for ending the year in a positive way, ensuring your staff come back refreshed, engaged and motivated in the new year. We take a look at the most common causes of stress at the end of the year, and what you can do to support your employees through them...

Finances

Everyone knows that money can be tighter around Christmas, after all presents, food, travel and more all adds up!. One of the biggest causes of stress in the festive period is not having enough money – something 32% of the respondents to our survey said

With 61% of employees saying that the financial stress that Christmas brings impacts their performance at work (Hastee), tackling money worries is key to your employees and your business. 

Alleviating financial pressure for your staff can be difficult. The end-of-year bonus has been seen as the best way to give a little extra at the end of the year, but are they actually effective? An extra lump sum can often push employees over a tax threshold, meaning they don’t see as much of their bonus in their bank account as they expect – and what remains will likely be swallowed up by everyday household bills.

Vouchers, gift cards and pre-paid debit cards can make an ideal reward or gift for employees at the end of the year, giving staff something they can set aside. Whether it’s discounts at a supermarket to help cover Christmas food costs or vouchers to take the family out to the cinema, these little things can really make a difference when money is so tight.

Salary reduction programmes can also help reduce financial pressures. Employees could be saving a little extra on big expenses like new tech while reducing their NI payments. 

Weather

With winter comes darker evenings and colder weather, which may seem trivial but the lack of light in winter can be impacting your employees' mental health. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that affects 35% of individuals (Peldon Rose). It’s more than just winter blues – SAD causes symptoms like irritability and lethargy.

How can you deal with this? It’s impossible to control the weather, of course, but it is possible to maximise natural light in the office, or your employees' home offices, by opening up the blinds as much as possible. There are also specialist lightbulbs, usually called daylight bulbs, which provide a stronger light source that better simulates natural light.

Encourage your employees to wrap up warmly on their lunch break and take a stroll (if the weather permits), this can help them get an extra boost of natural light and some exercise too!

Ill health

Coughs, colds and flu are all common in winter, and these can make us feel quite miserable and spread round offices easily! 

If possible, allow your employees to work from home when they've got a cold to prevent it spreading around. But also make sure you encourage a culture where employees don't feel pressured to work when they're ill. This includes ensuring everyone feels able to take sick days if they need to, without feeling penalised. 

Another way you can help is by helping your employees stay well this season by encouraging them to stay hydrated throughout the day, supporting their mental wellbeing, and encourage them to get active by providing a corporate gym memberships to help employees afford some extra exercise.

Work-life balance

A good work-life balance is important to help your teams stay mentally and physically well. During Christmas time the pressure is on to get everything finished at work before the holiday period. At home, it's no easier with shopping to get done,  kids’ festive school functions and planning for the years’ celebrations.

One way to combat this cause of stress could be to enhance your flexible working policy – allowing staff to start earlier in exchange for an early finish to make it to a child’s school event or a longer lunch to do some Christmas shopping.

For more advice, we have a great blog on getting the work-life balance right in your organisation all year round. 

How we can help:

We can help you tailor an employee benefits strategy that can support your employees’ mental, physical and financial wellbeing this winter and beyond. Speak to our experts today to get started!

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