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Stress in the Workplace at Christmas

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Half of All employees feel stressed at christmas

Over half of employees say that they feel stress during the festive period, or lethargic due to the winter months.

This can be due to the weather, workload, the time constraints in the workplace (as many Companies close during Christmas), and increased personal expenditure. 

Stress During The Winter Months

Due to the lack of sunlight, many people suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder (S.A.D). This can have an impact on a person’s mood, sleep and appetite resulting in people feeling more lethargic, less motivated and unable to concentrate.

Physical activity can help boost a person’s mood. While this can be more difficult in the cold shorter days compared to the summer, a walk during lunchtime may be a way of fitting this into the day. Spending time outside during the middle of the day will also ensure that a person is exposed to natural light.

Explaining the impact of S.A.D on a person and the benefits of a short walk may be useful to employees during the winter months. 

Personal Stress at Christmas

The personal lives of employees can have a significant impact on a Company, however, during the run-up to Christmas, the pressure on staff from their life outside work may escalate. This can directly impact the Company as increased stress levels can make an employee less productive, or their work may not be as accurate. 

Stress during the Christmas period may result in an employee having to take time off, resulting in both inconvenience and expense for the Company and perhaps additional stress for the other staff because of the increased workload. Therefore, it is essential to take into consideration what type of changes can be made in the workplace to limit stress.

Ways To Reduce Stress At Work Before Christmas

1) Independent Working:

Due to the pressure in a Company to complete high workload before the Christmas period, employers can often pass on this pressure to employees. The increased workload and the need for targets to be met can result in staff being monitored more closely and creating additional pressure. While it is vital to ensure that people are productive, people can feel more relaxed and become more efficient when they are being trusted to work independently and able to manage their workload. 2) Improve The Atmosphere:

Where possible and within reason, it may help lower stress levels to try and create a relaxed work atmosphere. Staff state that perks such as a relaxed dress code, or a planned team outing/lunch can improve the mood of a workplace. Also, when it is particularly busy, consider having quiet places for staff to go when things may be getting a bit too much to handle. This may not be possible for all Companies to achieve. However, small changes to the workplace can positively impact the mood. 3) Enabling Employees To Talk If They Are Experiencing An Issue:

For many people, Christmas can be a stressful time of year as it can highlight loneliness or family tensions which may affect their mental health. Employers should look for change in a member of staff’s behaviour and if there are visible signs of stress or anxiety it may be useful to quietly approach them and give the employee the opportunity to discuss and relieve any pressures they have. 4) Offer Flexible Hours:

This will enable staff to fulfil any personal commitments. However, the option of an early finish and working the hours back over another day could be beneficial to the Company as those hours could be worked when the business anticipates increased workload. This may not be a viable option for the whole of the festive period, but reasonable flexibility by the business may be appreciated by staff. 

Work’s Christmas Party

While a Christmas party is not everyone’s ideal way of relaxing it can improve the morale and general mood of many employees. Not only is it something to look forward to it can be viewed as a perk of working for the Company and make employees feel valued. It can also allow for social interaction and for individuals to build new friendships with their co-workers. 

This does, however, come with some areas of concern as employers may experience issues surrounding staff drinking too much, inappropriate or flirtatious behaviour or even gossip about the Company or colleagues.

It will be beneficial to remind employees of the behaviour that is expected at a work-related social event. Refer them to the policy in the Handbook so that they are clear on what is not acceptable; certain behaviours could expose the Company to employees taking action. For example, unwanted flirtation may escalate resulting in the Company being exposed to harassment claims because of something that happened during the course of employment. 

More employees are likely to experience stress during the Christmas period than at any other time of the year. Therefore, consider ways that the Company could help reduce stress in the workplace so that both the mental health of employees and the productivity of the Company is not affected. 

The option to have flexible hours may help, as will giving employees the opportunity to discuss any stresses they are experiencing. Also, during the busy festive period try and create a relaxed or enjoyable atmosphere in an attempt to counteract any increased business pressures. 

About The Author.

James Rowland

James Rowland

James is the Commercial Director at Neathouse Partners. He is responsible for all Account Management, Sales & Marketing within the company. Having gained a BSc in Psychology and further study for his post-grad Law degree, James embarked on his legal career in 2014. Since then, he has become an Associate Director at a national Employment Law boutique, studied for a Masters in Marketing, and as of 2018, been a Director at Neathouse Partners. Outside of the office, James is a keen cricketer, playing very badly (he calls himself a Batsman but averages single figures) in the Cheshire League for Nantwich CC. He also loves watching his childhood football team, Crewe Alexandra, and is an avid lover of cinema (his favourite film being Pulp Fiction). Feel free to connect with James on LinkedIn.
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