Buck Bond Group
Holiday season wellbeing

Holiday season wellbeing

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Mention that the festive season is here, and for most it invokes thoughts of presents under the tree, being surrounded by your loved ones, possibly wearing a jumper that you wouldn’t even consider wearing at any other time of year…To me personally, the festive season means treating myself to a port and lemon, plus roughly my own body weight in Quality Street!

However, the festive season isn’t necessarily a time of endless joy for everyone. There are a number of factors – individual or combined – that can make it a difficult time for many people. For those going through a rough time, the joy and sparkle of the holiday season can emphasise their own challenges.

The continuing cost of living crisis

Money worries can put a dampener on any celebrations. A Guardian article from earlier this year cites recent research by Tesco, which indicates that 38% of all Britons are planning to go out less than they usually would in the next few months.[1]

More generally, the pressure to spend on the things we associate with festivities can be extremely stressful when other costs have already risen so much. In the same article, research for the discount website VoucherCodes suggests that more than two fifths of the population say they feel worse off this Christmas than last year.[2]


Losing a loved one is hard, whenever it happens. Holidays can stir up happy memories of past celebrations, but this can also mean that grief can be more intense during this season, when the loss feels more present. Those who have been bereaved can also feel that they shouldn’t be putting a dampener on events by expressing how they feel, so may be hiding how difficult they are finding things.

Family conflict and relationship issues

At a time when you’re expected to be with your family, and we are surrounded by imagery of happy families, couples and friends celebrating, conflict or problems within existing relationships can feel heightened (as well as being exacerbated by financial issues).

Ill health

Similar to bereavements, many may not want to worry their loved ones over symptoms or concerns about their health during the festive season. As we are also aware, this is not helped by the ongoing resourcing issues within the NHS.


How can benefits help?

Employees (and their families, in some cases) can make use of a number of benefits which can provide support with holiday-specific challenges:

Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs)

Employees can access a number of telephone and/or face-to-face counselling sessions for help with things such as family/relationship issues, bereavement, trauma, and stress-related conditions.

Importantly (and often overlooked by employees, who may see an EAP as a solely mental health benefit), they can also get information around other challenges such as money management and debt support, plus help with legal and medical questions.

Employee discount sites

Often included as a “value add” to another benefit (e.g. a health cash plan or a private medical insurance scheme), employee discount sites can offer reduced costs for key expenses such as supermarket shopping – invaluable at Christmas when costs are often higher than usual, with extra treats and extra visitors quickly adding up.

Cash plans and PMI

These products often offer added value benefits, such as shopping discounts as above, access to helplines for routine medical questions or support with mental health, money off on other insurances (car, home, or travel), access to virtual GPs and more.

Cash plans also provide an annual pot towards health screenings, diagnostic tests, alternative therapies, and chiropody. In some cases, this will also include access to skin health diagnostics and a separate wellness app, where members can make use of fitness training videos, guided meditation and breathing exercises.

These benefits can ensure that employees can access support around their health and consultations and treatment if needed, at a time when the NHS can be under additional pressure from the usual winter illnesses.

Health screenings

Offering employees access to an annual health screening can also help allay any concerns they may have.

Schemes can be company funded or offered on a self-pay basis to employees – and in some cases, include ‘friends and family’ discounted rates versus off-the-shelf prices. Attendees can complete a medical questionnaire beforehand, which helps them determine areas they’d like to focus on.

Alongside time with a doctor or physiologist, they’ll also receive follow-up calls and get access to additional online support to help them achieve their goals.


So, how do we communicate these benefits to employees?

There are a number of ways to increase awareness and engagement, such as:

Promoting existing benefits

Make use of your internal comms channels, staff meetings, and one-to-ones to remind employees about what’s available to them in their benefits packages.

Providing employee webinars

Consider provider webinars focussing on specific topics. Employers can speak to their providers to see if they have existing webinars to share, or if they can provide one – this can be tied in with your own wellbeing calendar, or with other specific events, such as Veganuary, Movember, Mental Health Awareness Week, and International Women’s Day

Using resources on provider websites

Provider websites have a wealth of freely available information, in a variety of formats, including webinars, articles, infographics and more.

Wellbeing calendars

Make use of your own calendar if you have one; if not, most providers issue their own each year. This can ensure that information is delivered at optimal times, to best assist employees.

May all of us maintain our holiday season wellbeing, and may your festive season be merry and bright!

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/oct/24/more-britons-to-party-at-home-this-christmas-amid-rising-costs-says-tesco

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/oct/24/more-britons-to-party-at-home-this-christmas-amid-rising-costs-says-tesco