It’s the most wonderful time of the year… or is it? While many of us, myself included, are now fully embracing the festive season, decorating our homes, shopping for gifts and making plans to spend time with family and friends, for others, this can be a time of year to be endured rather than enjoyed.
Even for those who love the festive season, financial pressures, a packed social calendar, fewer daylight hours, festive party burnout, and a build-up of work ahead of the Christmas break, all mean it can quickly become stressful and overwhelming. While few employers are likely to have sympathy for staff who are unable to perform effectively due to a series of festive hangovers, there are a number of relatively simple steps they can take to help ease some of the pressures employees face.
Encouraging staff to look after their physical wellbeing can go a long way towards easing some of the symptoms of festive burnout. Promoting the need for staff to ensure they get an adequate amount of sleep, drink a sufficient amount of water and eat healthily whenever possible among the onslaught of parties and meals can help to improve both physical and mental fitness.
Promoting the benefits of, or even incentivising, exercise can also help to boost physical and mental wellbeing. This can be as simple as encouraging employees to walk more during the day and ensuring they make at least one opportunity each day to get outside in order to get some fresh air.
Inevitably, financial wellbeing can come under strain over the festive period. According to research by Hastee, published this week, 71% of staff say they source additional funds via credit over the Christmas period, 18% state the closure of payday lenders has added to their worry about how to afford Christmas, and 61% say that the financial stress of the festive season impacts their performance at work.
Workshops or group seminars on topics such as budgeting or debt management may be a good starting point to signpost employees to potential solutions. Workplace loans or flexible pay arrangements, meanwhile, could also help to alleviate some financial stressors.
Of course, some of the issues employees are facing may be a lot more serious. Loneliness, grief and family or relationship breakdowns can be felt much more keenly at this time of year. In these instances, promoting the existence of an employee assistance programme, counselling or other support networks available to staff may encourage individuals to reach out. This may just be the start of the support they require, but could prove a useful first step for an individual who has plucked up the courage to reach out for help.
So, while planning the annual Christmas party, employers should consider what other benefits may be useful; giving these an additional communications push could make a real difference to some employees at this time of year.