The festive period can be a stressful time; amidst all of the excitement, gift buying and indulgent food and drinks and celebratory gatherings, there’s often extra work, impending deadlines and demanding hours to navigate in the workplace, not to mention the personal demands at home. Holmes and Rahe actually developed a Stress Scale containing the 42 of the most stressful events in life to help gauge the likelihood and level of stress in comparison with illness and Christmas is on there! While it’s ranking was definitely not one of the highest, such as divorce or retirement, we experience Christmas year on year, not just once or twice in a lifetime. So, how then can workplaces and managers look to help their workforce and incorporate some stress-busting behaviour into their total workforce management?
Pan plan plan; forward planning for the Christmas period is vital! Time quickly escapes us in December and before we know it Christmas has arrived, with the New Year hot on its heels. Management and workforces will benefit from clearly laid out deadlines as early as possible. Does everyone know when their deadlines are, when they need to have completed projects by and when their holiday begin and end? Reconfirm all of this with employees early in the month, so that as they approach Christmas, they can plan around and for these deadlines and events.
Be aware and appreciate that Christmas is stressful at home too and can often be not a joyous but, in fact, painful time of year for some. There is not much, as an employer or manager that you can do to change this but there are some small things that you can arrange to help. Offer, if you can, an opportunity to escape the stress and inject a little fun in the office. This might be something Christmassy or it might be hiring a masseuse or mindfulness coach for the day to give the workforce a treat or help them to manage their stress.
Reiterate Your Open Door Policy
Any form of good management comes with its own form of open door policy; communication between and across all levels of an organisation is paramount. And staff knowing that support is there when they might need it should be part of your total workforce management, remind your staff of this as we approach the festive period so that you can help them to manage their workplace stress accordingly.
Try to create a good balance between the festive fun and games and work in the workplace in the lead up to Christmas. It’s easy for teams to get carried away with the festivities, and if management is partaking or encouraging these activities then it’s even easier. You don’t want these festivities to cause your workforce more stress in dragging them away from their projects. In an attempt to encourage the festive spirit but still retain control and create a productive, organised and stress-free workforce in the countdown to Christmas, planning and balance is necessary. Lay out the festivities which will be taking place early on, so that if employees are eager to take part in the office fun and games, they can chisel out some time in their schedule in advance.
Benefiting from your forward planning and your thoughtful total workforce management, your employees should have their workload in hand, however, the demands of the Christmas period may still be causing some stress. Are you able to either introduce or increase the flexible hours or remote working allowances to help your staff out over the festive period? They’ll appreciate the extra effort around such a busy time and you may even find that deadlines are met more swiftly!
A few more tips:
Exercise and fresh air have immense effects on stress levels, getting enough of both or either can help us deal much better with stress. Is your workforce getting a chance to leave the office and get one or both of these on their lunch breaks? Maybe you could encourage them to!
Winter is a dull time for most, especially in the UK, it’s cold and usually fairly damp, this is so commonly reflected in our moods and effects some more than others, try to allow as much natural light into the workspace. If that is not possible you could enhance the office with more lighting (UV lamps are even better) and some foliage too; plants are proven stress reducers.
Look after your own wellbeing and manage your own stress well. As a manager of a team or organisation leading with a calm and stress-free manner, you’re both less likely to pass on any pressure or stress to your team and more likely to be able to help others manage theirs!