'Tis the Season for Workplace Stress: Here's How to Keep it to a Minimum

Posted November 15, 2018

The holiday magic is already in the air… or is it? Despite the cheer many may feel, the season is known to increase stress. November and December bring with them a load of anxiety that surpasses the rest of the year. Some people may experience greater feelings of isolation from family and friends or the jitters about family get-togethers. Others are rushing through their day too busy to breathe. Still others may be grieving losses or experiencing symptoms of depression from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Whatever their stressors, the results are sure to spill over into their workday.

How stress affects on-the-job performance

Stress and anxiety take a significant toll on job performance, leaving employees distant and unengaged. A poorly engaged workforce is simply bad news for business. In contrast, neuroscience expert (and author) Christine Comaford found that fully engaged employees can massively fuel profits and revenue growth (by more than 200%!).

What’s a savvy business leader to do?

As a leader in the workplace, you can bring a sense of peace to the chaos happening within and manifesting without. By helping team members feel a sense of connection, safety, and stability in the workplace. Here are 6 things you can do to decrease the stress for your team as you blaze on toward the end of the year.
  • Encourage idea sharing (and listening) 

    A sense of belonging is vital to gaining control of unruly emotions. And nothing says you belong and you matter like giving everyone a chance to express their thoughts and ideas on work matters. Find ways to give your team a voice, whether in planning the holiday office party, strategizing for the year ahead or planning out budget allocations. Lending an ear shows that you care enough to listen and that you trust that they have something valuable to share.
  • Provide a healthy environment 

    Holiday celebrations and endless holiday parties bring with them a lot of tasty treats--and those tasty eats can be really damaging to individuals’ goals to maintain or lose weight. The added stress of trying to eat healthy during this time can make people cranky--especially when they have to summon up all their willpower to avoid the sugary snacks in the break room. Do your team (and yourself) a favor and provide some healthy, fun holiday snack options to help your team make progress toward goals in the place where they spend the majority of their days.
  • Create service opportunities 

    Helping others is a proven way of stepping out of our own pain and slashing our own stress. By giving your team members the ability to take some extra time off during the holidays to volunteer and serve others, you can help them tap into a deeper gratitude--and keep their stress at bay.
  • Offer access to financial resources 

    The National Retail Federation revealed that last year, U.S. holiday shoppers spent around $967 on average. The financial strain of the season of joy can be enough to wipe the smile off many faces. The weeks leading up to the holidays are a great time to give your team access to financial wellness resources like workshops or budgeting classes, etc, to help them take control of their finances.
  • Don’t overdo the holiday celebrations 

    While many people love the hustle, bustle, and cheer of the holidays, for others it might be a painful reminder of loss or of what’s missing in their lives. Keep the workplace feeling safe by keeping the holiday festivities to a minimum. Your annual holiday party is a great way to show appreciation and let your team let loose and have fun. But you might want to rethink your Twelve Days of Christmas events or the daily reminders.
  • Give people space 

    That is, don’t chase them down asking about their holiday plans. If someone wants to talk about their plans, they undoubtedly will without you asking. Give them some privacy and space, and the dignity to graciously avoid what could be a painful Q&A.
Create a low-stress environment for your team this holiday season, and you’ll not only see greater engagement and productivity--you’ll see a happier, healthier team.
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