Human Capital Management Blog

Strategies for HCM Professionals

5 strategies for reducing office stress during the holiday season

giftKeeping employees healthy, stress-free and productive is always a challenge – the workplace is constantly presenting little obstacles here and there that make human capital management difficult. But things get especially tough during the holiday season.

There are numerous roadblocks to staying productive throughout December. Perhaps most obviously, people aren’t working as much, as they’re frequently taking time off around the holidays. They’re traveling all over the place, they’re shopping and they’re making plans with family and friends. In short, they’re doing everything but work.

They’re also considerably stressed.

People are worried about finishing their work before they leave on vacation. They’re struggling to balance their jobs with the other life priorities that creep up. Big picture-wise, they’re scrambling to achieve their goals for the end of the year. There are too many questions to answer, and not enough time to answer them.

According to Entrepreneur magazine, combating stress is especially difficult in December. Business, fitness and health expert Lisa Evans has observed that this is the downside to the festivity of the holiday season – it brings significant workplace productivity challenges.

“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,” Evans noted. “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.”

Are you hoping your company can be the exception and not the rule? The following five tips should help with reducing stress during the holiday season.

Plan well in advance
If you don’t want to drown in stressful December work projects, one thing that can help is advance planning. Get projects done ahead of time if possible, and with the ones that remain, set a schedule that’s feasible. 

Set realistic expectations
The last thing you want to do is aim too high in December, trying to get too much work done and coming up short. That will just leave your staff with a backload of extra assignments in January. Keep the workload reasonable.

Allow for flexibility
Having a flexible mindset is key around the holidays. There are sure to be work absences and projects that stall here and there as a result, but what’s more important is that your employees take the time off they need to spend with family and friends, and recharge before coming back into the office. 

Make the holidays fun
December isn’t all just panic and stress management – you can also enjoy the holiday season a little bit with treats and office parties. This can boost morale for your staff and help relieve the pre-holiday tension. But it’s important that you don’t make taking part in these celebrations mandatory. Chief Human Resources Officer for Ceridian, Sara Hill, shares advice to help employers stay respectful of diversity during the holiday season in her latest blog post

Look to the future
Aside from getting ready for the holidays, you can also use this time to look ahead to next year. What does 2016 have in store for your organization? Think about the next moves that you and your employees could potentially make. And don’t forget to celebrate all your successes in 2015!

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