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The holiday season can be a challenge for the HR department, who are often tasked with making sure that employees have a great time, while still getting their work done. The holidays can also be a stressful time in general, as the pressures of planning family get-togethers and finding time to relax can add up quickly.

That’s why HR departments and management teams need to take a proactive approach to managing their employees’ well-being during this busy season. Here is an inside look at some of the best ways to do just that.

Holiday Challenges in the Workplace

Businesses are typically inundated with requests for time off around the holiday season, and that can make it difficult to keep up with the workload. HR professionals tend to bear the brunt of the holiday stress, as they have to find a way to manage everyone’s requests without letting the business suffer. It’s important to take steps to mitigate the impact of this stress, such as by setting up a holiday leave policy that’s clear and fair for employees.

The holidays bring many unique challenges to businesses, from increased customer demands to special events and promotions. Customers are shopping more than any other time of the year, which means sales are likely to be high for many businesses. 

However, this increased demand can also lead to stress for employees, who are expected to meet the needs of customers while also fulfilling their own holiday obligations. It’s essential that HR professionals work closely with other departments like marketing and sales to ensure that everyone is adequately prepared for the holiday rush.

Annual marketing campaigns also tend to reach their height during the holidays. Companies often use this time of the year to promote their brand and products, which can lead to increased sales. In addition, a successful holiday campaign can help build customer loyalty and increase demand for products in other seasons of the year. But all the rush can come at a cost for employees, who can feel overwhelmed by the workload.

Holiday Challenges for HR Departments

HR teams have to manage the flow of requests for time off, meeting everyone’s needs to the best of their ability. This can be especially difficult when there are multiple HR professionals on staff, each with different approaches to managing leave requests. 

In addition, businesses have to make sure that their employees don’t feel like they’re being treated unfairly when it comes to taking time off around the holidays.

Employees may also be facing burnout or feeling left out by holiday workplace messaging. HR departments can address these challenges in turn to better manage holiday stressors in the workplace.

Managing Absences

In order to manage time off requests, HR teams must have a solid understanding of how their company’s leave policies work. They also have to be mindful of how different departments approach leave requests, as well as when employees typically take time off.

Businesses need to make sure that their employees don’t feel like they’re being treated unfairly when it comes to taking time off around the holidays.

Avoiding Burnout

Avoiding burnout during the holidays is important for both employers and employees. The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, but it’s especially hard on employees who work long hours and have little time off during the year. This is especially true if employees have to travel or deal with personal issues.

HR teams should make sure that their staff members are taking advantage of all available benefits, including vacation days and paid holidays. Employees who have been working long hours for weeks or months on end might not even realize how much time off they’ve accrued.

Inclusive Holiday Messaging

It’s important to remember that not everyone celebrates the same holidays — and not everyone celebrates the holidays. Companies should take steps to make sure everyone feels included when they’re sending holiday emails or posting on social media to address the different backgrounds and cultures of different employees. These steps could include:

  • Including a brief, nondenominational holiday message
  • Posting links to articles about different holidays and traditions in different cultures (such-as Hanukkah or Kwanzaa)
  • Using inclusive language in the email newsletter

It might be helpful to circulate an anonymous survey in advance asking how employees would prefer the company to celebrate the holidays. This is an easy way to get feedback on how best to handle this issue, and it can help the company avoid making any mistakes.

Holiday Challenges for Managers

Managers can play a key role during the holidays in making sure employees feel appreciated, valued, and supported. This can help to create an environment that’s conducive to productivity throughout the year. Some ideas for managers include:

  • Clarifying that there are no expectations around working during the holidays
  • Encouraging employees to take time off if they need it, but also reminding them that their work will still be there when they return
  • Creating a flexible work schedule where possible (including allowing people to leave early during the weeks of Thanksgiving or Christmas)

Managers could also be encouraged to take a day off during the holidays, or at least clarify that they are available for employees who require help or advice on any issues arising. Remember that it’s a time of year for celebration, so don’t be afraid to allow employees to enjoy themselves.

How HR Departments Can Help Managers During the Holidays

The HR department can be a resource for managers when it comes to managing the holiday workload. They can provide training and tools to help managers plan their schedules, manage employee absences, create a flexible work environment, and much more.

The key factors to consider during the holiday season are employee stress, inclusion, and retention. The holidays are a stressful time for many people, and it’s important for managers to be aware of this and help employees find ways to deal with the stress. It’s also important to make sure that every employee feels included and valued during this time of year.

Encouraging Stress Management

Managers can help reduce their employees’ stress by offering them a flexible schedule. Giving them extra work breaks if they need them, or making sure there are no last-minute deadlines or other pressing expectations before the holiday break begins, can go a long way. 

HR teams can help managers succeed by offering them resources for stress management and encouraging them to practice self-care during this busy time.

Fostering Inclusion

Since management teams are often most responsible for bringing their organizations together as one team, it’s important that they be inclusive of all employees during this time of year. Making sure everyone is included in the holiday celebration can help to reduce stress and increase employee engagement, which will benefit your organization greatly in the long run.

HR professionals can assist managers in creating a more inclusive environment by identifying employees who may feel left out of the celebration and connecting them with others on their teams. This can help to create bonds between coworkers, which can be crucial when working together in stressful situations down the road.

Showing Employee Appreciation

Employee retention during the holiday season can be a challenge for employers, especially if they are experiencing high turnover rates. The holiday season can be stressful for many people, and it may even cause them to reconsider their job options. Managers should take steps to ensure that their employees feel valued and appreciated throughout the holiday season, as this can help to reduce turnover rates.

For example, the HR team could provide employees with a gift card or a small token of appreciation. Managers could also send out an email to their team thanking them for their hard work, and letting them know that they are valued.

Using HR to Ease the Pressure Off Employees

Considering just how stressful the holidays can be for many people, it’s important that managers use HR to take the pressure off their employees. For example, if an employee has a serious family emergency and needs time off during the busy season, it’s vital that they can get it without having to worry about how this will affect their performance reviews.

Managers and HR teams should also consider holding workshops to help employees deal with any stress or anxiety they might be experiencing. This could mean offering relaxation classes, stress management advice, and even meditation classes. Giving employees time to take care of themselves can help them avoid burnout and increase their productivity in the long run.

Reduce Workplace Stress During the Holidays

Above all, managers and HR teams should remember that the holidays are about bringing people together. That means making sure that employees feel like they have a say in how their company celebrates the season.

Set standards for reasonable work hours, make sure that employees are getting paid for the time they’re working, and make sure everyone has an opportunity to take time off if they need it. Be creative in using HR to improve the company’s holiday experience. Resourcing Edge offers HR expertise for companies that want to improve their holiday celebrations.  Visit Resourcing Edge to learn more about our HR consulting services.

Jami Beckwith

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