Easing holiday-induced stress

Time off to finish shopping and special holiday meals can help employees manage stress

The holiday season is one of the most demanding times of the year for employers and employees.

“Holiday time is very stressful because people have more to do than at any other time during the year,” said Jen Wegener, clinical manager at Chicago-based workplace wellness consulting firm Bensinger, DuPont & Associates.

“The good news is that are a number of ways employers can ease their employees’ holiday-induced stress and, at the same time, reduce absenteeism, minimize sick time, and create an overall positive work environment.”

Wegener offered these suggestions:

•Office decorations: Let each office area create their own theme or decorating idea. Have a judging contest and include a small budget.

•Office parties: Office parties can happen formally and informally during the holiday. Maybe you can have the party at a different location and invite family members.

•What about a holiday meal at work? Create a meal for the homeless or some other type of charitable meal that includes people other than just your employees and their families. The money spent will go miles toward boosting employee morale and, thus, the company's bottom line.

•What special perks are afforded? What kind of special time off is there for busy people to go shopping, to prepare special meals, to travel during this time? Not everyone has the luxury of a school schedule. Most companies close only a day or two during holidays, yet the demands of the season mean people need more time. Give employees shopping days or even half-days. Give employees gifts that are frivolous and fun, such as coupons they can cash in for time off.

•Do something that makes people feel special: Having employees who feel special at work can be created by doing small but organized activities in the workplace. For instance, recognize employees’ achievements at a holiday luncheon, designate a bulletin board on which employees can share their families’ favourite holiday photos, or have all employees hang a favourite ornament on the company tree.

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