Holiday Stress & Your Employees

Holiday stress is typically experienced as short-term stress that goes away at the start of the new year. But for some, the holidays can magnify an existing mental health issue. Causing it to overflow into all aspects of their life—including work. Learn how to support stressed out employees this holiday season.

Short-Term Holiday Stress

As joyful as the holidays may be, they often bring a high level of expectation and demand. Decorations, holiday events, family gatherings, special meals, school vacations, finding the perfect present (and the credit card bill that follows!) can be enough to impact even the most resilient person. It can bring temporary feelings of overwhelm and chaos. And for many, their heightened feelings return to normal once the last decoration is put away.

Holiday Depression

For others, the holiday season may spark the beginning of a deeper response. Depression and anxiety are more likely to develop this time of year. This is especially true for those coping with:

  • Loss of a loved one
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • Illness
  • Eldercare and/or childcare responsibilities
  • Loneliness
  • Financial concerns
  • Divorce or separation
  • Active recovery from addiction
  • Family conflict
  • Perfectionism

Regardless of if it’s short-term or long-term holiday stress, these feelings may show up at work as low productivity, decreased performance, and/or increased conflict with colleagues.

How to Help Employees Reduce Stress this Holiday Season

It is important to put employees’ wellbeing first by creating a people-first culture within your organization. When employees feel appreciated, connected to their colleagues, and encouraged to take care of their mental health, they generate higher levels of engagement, productivity, and revenue.

Your HR/Benefits team and leaders can implement the following 5 tips this holiday season to support employees:

  1. Normalize mental health care and promote your EAP for both prevention and intervention.
  2. Lean on your EAP to educate leaders and managers on mental health during the holidays and how they can lead with empathy.
  3. Keep company holiday celebrations to work hours to prevent additional pressure on employees.
  4. Consider the workload and relax deadlines around the holidays, if possible.
  5. Encourage employees to use their PTO to recharge (especially if you have a “use-it-or-lose-it” PTO policy.)

While organizations should always lead with empathy, it’s especially important this time of year. Make the extra effort and take care of your team. Here’s to a low-stress holiday season!