Festive stress in the workplace 

Festive stress in the workplace

The season of goodwill,  a time of good cheer, relaxation and celebration?  Not for all sadly. For many, the Christmas break is stressful. The reasons are more varied than you might think and companies need to be aware how this can effect their staff.

The weather plays an important part in the first signs of stress and possible depression in the workplace.  Reduced daylight has a negative effect on our well being, and a study in 2006  suggested that mood and well-being in the workplace was correlated with exposure to daylight.

Workload and Christmas stress may join together and lead to an overwhelming feeling of being unable to cope, resulting in sick days and a lack of productivity at work.  Employees may feel stressed to meet deadlines to ensure the Christmas break is covered and may put undue pressure on themselves.

Survey’s reveal 54 per cent of employees feel Christmas stress.  Purchasing Christmas presents for colleagues caused a rise of 56% of stress levels, along with finishing work and projects at 49% higher than normal for most.  Add all this to the financial worry that Christmas brings and its no wonder some staff feel slightly overwhelmed by the winter break.

Whilst most people look forward to staff Christmas parties and the exchange of gifts to work colleagues, there are many that do not see this as a perk, but more of a hindrance and a minefield of correct etiquette, ranging from merely feeling apprehensive at the extra sociable aspect, to a possible total avoidance.

The added worry of how much to spend on gifts, what to wear, and the workplace v family time split can just be too much for some.  As an employer it is our responsibility to recognise the possible signs and reduce stress  as much as possible for our staff – intervening if necessary so that staff do not feel obligated to partake in activities that cause distress or financial burden.

How do we do this?

There are various ways to help our employees at this time of year, and we have a legal responsibility to our staffs mental health and well being.

Managing their workload is a very effective way, this can be achieved by planning ahead and distributing an even workload to staff. Staying ahead of schedules with increased communication will stop the end of week panic and will stop the increased pressure of worry over the Christmas break and what they are returning to.

Offering if possible, a more flexible working pattern to enable colleagues to achieve their family commitments over the festive break is also effective. A Christmas bonus will always result in a sense of monetary recognition and will help with the financial stress this time of year, inevitably brings. Our ultimate goal is for our staff to enjoy the festive period and return to work, refreshed and relaxed.

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Sandra Berns

Centric HR was founded by Sandra Berns, a confident and versatile Human Resources and Organisational Development Practitioner with 25 years demonstrable experience and a Fellow of the CIPD. Sandra has both Operational and Strategic HR expertise across Public and Private sectors and has assisted senior teams in meeting challenging workforce objectives in many corporate environments.