By Linda Bisca, HR Services Partner

Do you feel like productivity in the office declines during the holidays? With all the stress associated with the hustle and bustle of shopping, holiday festivities, and last-minute vacation days, productivity in the office may suffer. Here are some tips to help your employees stay engaged and focused on their work.

As a leader, you should heighten your awareness of signs of stress in employees during this time. Here is a list of signs that your employees may be experiencing higher than normal stress levels, according to an article in Corporate Wellness Magazine by Norbert Berta Alicea:

  • Change in normal behavior, such as becoming uncharacteristically irritable or withdrawn
  • Change in appearance or hygiene
  • Lack of focus or concentration
  • Unusual tension with other colleagues
  • Change in quality of work performance/reduction in productivity
  • Absenteeism

There are several ideas that leaders can do to support stressed employees during working hours:

  • Make yourself available to listen.
  • Avoid putting additional pressure on employees by making holiday parties mandatory. It can be costly to line up babysitter and purchase expensive clothing for the event. Many people also find the holidays depressing for various reasons, therefore, do not enjoy parties.
  • Don’t press others about holiday plans unless you are aware they are freely sharing them with others.
  • Offer employees a mental health day or a shopping day between Thanksgiving and the new year.
  • If you cannot offer an extra day off to employees, consider allowing them to take care of their personal business at work, for instance, letting employees shop online during the workday.
  • Rebalance workloads among team members or allow different work hours for a set period of time.
  • Show your appreciation for your team, such as writing a personal holiday card to each employee or having a luncheon brought in to the office or taking the team to a restaurant.

Another problem that often arises around the busy holidays is an increase in illnesses among your employees. Ensuring your employees stay healthy may seem impossible, but there are a few things you can incorporate in the office to help increase wellness.

  1. Encourage exercise during the day. For many of us, the weather during this time of the year is not very optimal for outdoor activity. However, employees could walk around the building for 10 minutes several times a day, or encourage deskercises.
  2. Provide healthy snacks. During the holiday, it can be an overload of sugar with all the treats employees bring to share. This can lead to sluggishness and difficulty focusing on work. Instead, bring in fresh fruit, raw vegetables, hummus, or nuts and place in the break room.
  3. Host a healthy potluck. Encourage employees to bring fresh, nutritious foods to share. This will give employees an energy boost for the day and is a great way to promote healthy eating.
  4. Start a wellness challenge. You could do either a physically healthy challenge (exercising, drinking more water, more healthy food options) or a 30-Day Gratitude challenge (employees write down one gratitude a day for 30 days).

If you find an employee(s) that seem particularly stressed or depressed, which is common during this time, remind them of your EAP program to help them address concerns they may be experiencing. Employers play a critical role in ensuring employees have additional support and are aware of resources that can provide assistance during difficult times.

Once the holidays are over, that does not mean everyone goes back to normal immediately. Get the employees to focus on the new year and future by getting them involved in planning for the coming year. Motivate them on how they can make an impact on new lifestyles and helping others.

For further help or more ideas, consider partnering with a Professional Employer Organization such as Resourcing Edge. A PEO has the resources to help manage your human capital so you can focus on the bottom line no matter what time of the year it is.

HR Services Partner Linda Bisca has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience in the areas of compliance, employee relations, and special projects. She specializes in creating win-win scenarios for employees and employers alike.

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