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12 blogs of Christmas: Wellbeing in the workplace

12 blogs of Christmas: Wellbeing in the workplace

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There are big expectations that the holiday season should be exciting, enjoyable and busy.  However, the festive season can also be a stressful time due to additional time obligations, financial and other pressures.  The sense that the holiday period ‘should’ mean having a great time can be a challenge in itself, as personal difficulties may feel heightened by comparison.  There may also be a risk of burnout among employees, if they are struggling to manage their work / life balance.

This is a time of year when employee benefits-related communications may be especially appreciated, to enhance wellbeing in the workplace.  Employers can offer support for employees feeling overwhelmed or who are struggling, and encourage safe behaviour throughout the festive season.  Here are some areas where employers can offer support for a happy and healthy holiday season:

  • Indulgence and alcohol consumption:  Employees may be going out, generally indulging and drinking more than usual.  Promoting the right messages can have a positive impact on employees’ health and wellbeing.  Employers can share information about knowing your limits when it comes to alcohol, and encourage a balanced approach during office celebrations.  One of our previous blogs in this series provides more information on maintaining a healthy approach to alcohol. Employers could also share resources and blogs on topics such as drink driving and acceptable staff conduct during office celebrations.
  • Showing appreciation:  Recognition can improve motivation and mental wellbeing, especially during more stressful periods.  Now is also a great time to demonstrate appreciation for your employees’ work throughout the year.  Employers could consider a company-wide gesture such as sending holiday hampers to employees.  They could also offer gifts with an emphasis on wellbeing.  Our earlier blog on appreciation and recognition provides further insights.
  • Stress:  Christmas can be a busy time, with many working around annual leave managing year-end deadlines.  Employers can help reduce stress by offering remote and /or flexible working, and adjust workloads where appropriate.  A previous blog in this series focuses on combating stress.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):  Known as ‘winter depression,’ SAD can compound feelings of stress.  It can affect people during the winter months due to lack of sunlight, and have impacts on mood, sleep and appetite.  This can leave people feeling tired, with reduced enthusiasm and motivation – which may be felt more keenly during the busy holiday season.  Employers can help employees suffering from SAD by ensuring that offices are well lit, with desks near natural light sources.  Colours and greenery can also have a positive impact on mood, and even small changes such as bringing plants into the office can increase feelings of wellbeing.  Exercise and being outdoors can also combat SAD, and health and fitness-focused benefits can support this.
  • Mental health:  As always, awareness and openness are important when it comes to maintaining good mental health among your employees.  Employers can work to create a positive attitude towards mental health in the workplace, and ensure that information and resources are accessible where needed.  Employees should be supported in seeking help, whether through their GP or the Employee Assistance Programme.  The EAP can provide counselling, while occupational health services can provide support to both the employee and employer.
  • Listen:  Take the time to talk to employees, and listen to their concerns.  Simply being heard and understood can have a positive impact, and this best enables employers to offer support where it is needed.

While the holiday season can be great fun, it can also be a time where added pressures are felt in the workplace.  By sharing relevant information and resources, employers can support their employees’ wellbeing over the festive season.