Staff wellbeing at Christmas
Posted on 9th November 2023 at 13:21
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If you run a business or service in the UK, you are going to be affected by Christmas. Irrespective of whether you and your staff celebrate yourself, you are going to be affected by company holidays, reduced services, deadlines and time off.
You may have to work later to fulfil orders in time for the holiday season. You may have to pull out all stops to meet a gruelling Quarter Four income target. You may also have demands from customers who are also rushing to meet their deadlines. Availability of childcare can also be a strain on working parents
And with that comes an additional pressure on you and your people.
That's why it's so important to think about staff wellbeing in the lead-up to Christmas.
Statistics for workplace stress at Christmas
A survey from YouGov found that a quarter of people say that Christmas makes their mental health worse,
A survey from the Mental Health Foundation found that 54% of people were worried about the mental health of someone they know at Christmas.
A survey conducted by the workplace consultancy firm Peldon Rose reported 49% of workers had an increased workload to complete before Christmas Day and that this was the main reason behind their anxiety at Christmas.
Tips for employers to help navigate Christmas stress
Keep talking and - more importantly - listening.
Listen to when your staff say that they are struggling, and know that them telling you is often as a last resort rather than a first resort. Research shows that staff members do not always feel comfortable talking to their manager about how they are feeling. This is especially the case if they think their chances at work may be hindered if they declare a problem, or if they feel they are letting down team members.
Be realistic about what is achievable.
Some businesses bring in most of their income at Christmas and some don't. Be realistic and set your targets accordingly. If Christmas is a big earning time for you, then think about what you need to be able to cope - whether that's stockpiling products for sale at Christmas or bringing in additional staff to cope with the rush.
Say thank you.
This ranges from an end-of-year party and staff recognition awards to a bonus for a job well done. The mere fact you have taken the time to personally and authentically say a heartfelt thank you will be appreciated. Making time for employees and showing you have a culture of wellbeing can make a huge difference.
Home time is home time; don't impose on your employees by expecting them to work late without prior mutual agreement, or to answer emails when they are meant to be with their family and friends. School holidays during the festive season can be a busy time but also the perfect time to show your staff that boundaries are important. Set out of office responses as appropriate.
Pay attention to health.
Create opportunities for health. This could be establishing something like a Wellbeing Hour for staff members to use one a month, or bringing in office massage options. It could be arranging for a healthcare professional to attend the office for flu jabs, or arranging a private GP appointment for your staff as they need it. An investment in health is also an investment in productivity. Physical health and physical wellbeing is as important as mental wellbeing, and so do consider them holistically. Encourage and enable self-care activities; a 45-minute wellbeing walk can make a difference.
If business obligations allow, you can create opportunities for flexible working over the festive season. This will help your staff in a number of ways, from being more able to cope with childcare arrangements, to reducing their time and spend on travel. Christmas is intended to be a time of joy, and helping your staff co-ordinate time with flexible working can improve their psychological health.
Consider financial stress.
Christmas and the entire festive period can be financial strain on families and individuals. What can you do to help? Christmas can create financial pressures but there is one thing that is guaranteed - we know the date each year. It makes sense to plan for Christmas, and that includes financial planning. Whether you operate a Christmas Savings Club or have access to a financial planner for your team, make sure your staff know about it so that you can improve financial wellbeing.
Connectivity and social activities.
Consider some festive activities that you can enjoy together as a team. Festive films and social gatherings are often appreciated, even an evening or afternoon office party. Additional work pressures over the holiday period can leave people feeling like just workers rather than real people and so enabling a chance to connect informally will help restore levels of wellbeing.
Make sure your staff wellbeing resources are available and that your people know about how to access them over the holiday period. You could also include a mental health resource pack.
We hope these wellbeing tips will help you and your teams through the cold winter months and dark winter nights.
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