16 Tips for Employers About How to Reduce Employee Holiday Stress

You Can Keep Employee Productivity and Morale High During the Holidays

Don't Let Holiday Stress Get You Down. Katie Clarke/E+/Getty Images

Don't Cause Employee Stress

Want to keep productivity and employee spirits positive during the holidays? Are you looking for ways to relieve holiday-related stress? You can start by not causing stress. As an employer, you control many of the variables that create holiday season stress for people.

Almost everyone wants to make extra money for the holidays, but excessive overtime hours and working on paid holidays lowers employee morale. Losing weekends needed to prepare for the holidays causes even more negative feelings. Flexibility in the hours and days that employees are required to work during the holidays can alleviate much of the holiday stress that employees experience.

Short deadlines for important projects and pressure to reach end-of-year-goals can add additional stress to the holidays. Even simple, fun events, such as purchasing a Secret Santa present or baking for a cookie exchange, can add to holiday stress; they create just one more thing to do.

Allow Employees to Use Paid Time Off

So does the need for employees to take any paid time off that they will lose at the end of December if they don't take the time. Most employers limit the amount of paid time off that employees can carry over into the new year. And, not all employers are willing to pay employees for this time not used. (The best employers want employees to take and enjoy their vacation time as a tool in the battle against workplace stress.)

Understanding workplace stress emphasizes how you can take care of holiday stress on a personal level. You are the first step in a responsible stress management program—after all, who will benefit more than you?

Human Resources staff are also in a terrific position to help employees conquer stress, not just during the holidays, but all throughout the year. Stress is estimated to cost US businesses $300 billion annually—or $2,000 per employee every year, according to the "2015 Workplace Benefits Report: Helping employees live their best financial lives."

Referencing these numbers, concentrating resources to help employees relieve employee stress makes business sense. So does helping an employee apply for a stress leave from work in your most difficult situations.

What Employers Can Do to Limit Employee Holiday Stress

The following tips from the Society for Human Resource Management tell you what employers are doing to limit employee holiday stress.

SHRM staff asked human resource professionals, "Does your company engage in any of the following practices to help alleviate holiday-related stress among your employees?" These are the actions most frequently cited.

  • 51 percent schedule holiday events during normal business hours.
  • 39 percent remind employees of their Employee Assistance Program.
  • 33 percent show appreciation for employees who work during a holiday.
  • 32 percent encourage casual dress for holiday parties.
  • 30 percent provide holiday food.
  • 23 percent give the quarterly or annual bonus early for holiday shopping.
  • 20 percent provide floating days for holidays worked.
  • 14 percent offer reduced hours so employees can run errands.
  • 13 percent allow time for volunteer opportunities during work hours.
  • 8 percent provide extra shifts for people to earn holiday money.
  • 1 percent cover child care for employee errands.
  • 15 percent of employers provide other employee perks and opportunities.

More Ideas About What to Do to Limit Employee Holiday Stress

Want more ideas? Try these, too.

  • Give every employee a gift from the company. One company gave an impressive pen with the company logo. Holiday dinner food is a great idea if the store is convenient to all.
  • Offer flexible schedules so people can take time when they need it for their holiday preparations and celebrations.
  • Consider making more holidays floating so people can honor their religious and cultural traditions with paid time off. Think of Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Hanukah and more, yet most organizations offer paid holidays for Christmas and New Day only.
  • Provide any bonuses for attendance, or other gifts you might offer in the normal course of events, in spendable formats such as grocery store gift cards, gift certificates or phone cards.
  • Consider allowing employees to telecommute on some days during the holidays to save the time spent on getting to and from work. This is the time that then becomes available for employees to pursue their holiday season activities and events.

The Bottom Line

Ways to help employees control, manage and eliminate holiday stress are endless—and endlessly appreciated. Think of this shortlist as the start of a brainstorm, not the finish.