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December 08, 2023

9 Ways HR Can Help Employees Through The Holidays To Reduce Stress

Movies and advertising would have us believe the period from December to the new year is a non-stop ride of joyous festivities, but HR teams need to be prepared for a far less merry ride. In a 2016 Healthline survey, 62% of respondents reported elevated stress levels over the holidays. Balancing work and family commitments gets increasingly challenging as the festive season approaches, which is exacerbated further by the financial strain of the pressure to buy the right gifts, cook the right meals, and participate in holiday outings.
Fortunately, Human Resources (HR) departments have a unique opportunity to support their employees and alleviate some of the demands associated with the holiday season. In this blog article, we will explore 9 actionable strategies and initiatives HR teams can implement to help employees navigate the holidays with less stress and greater well-being.

From promoting work-life balance to offering mental health resources, let’s ensure that HR professionals are well-equipped to create a supportive and stress-free environment during the festive time of year.

1.  Start Early

The most effective holiday stress reduction initiatives start months ahead of when needed. Come the end of the year, everything gets increasingly rushed. Employees scramble to meet deadlines, make travel and family plans, and inevitably get burnt out.

HR departments can get ahead of this problem by laying the groundwork months before the holidays. Here are some examples of what that can look like:

Start PTO discussions in September, so work calendars can be adjusted accordingly. This also prevents a mad dash at the end of the year with employees trying to squeeze in last-minute PTO.

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Check in with employees to make sure that they know what the company policies are about holiday PTO and give ample warning on dates if the business will be closed for a period.

Book things like office Christmas parties well in advance so that it doesn’t accidentally become a burden in the last weeks of work.

Finances and the possibility of bonuses are often a big concern toward the end of the year. If a Christmas bonus is a standard employee benefit, make sure people know about it and what they can likely expect to avoid added anxiety or disappointment.

If open enrollment is at the end of the year, be sure you work with your broker well in advance to establish your plans, existing or new, and give employees plenty of time to learn and choose benefits. Giving a 30-day time period is a good timeframe.

2.  Ask Employees What They Need

Though we can generalize about common issues that crop up in workplaces over the holidays, each company and employee is likely to have a unique perspective on the issue. It’s worth running anonymous surveys in the lead-up to the holidays and in the immediate aftermath to gauge how an HR department can best support staff through the holiday season and new year.

3.  Holiday Wellness Initiatives

Introduce wellness initiatives specifically tailored to the holiday season. This could include virtual wellness challenges, mindfulness sessions, or providing resources on managing stress. By actively promoting employee well-being, HR can contribute to a healthier and more resilient workforce.

To read more, check out Espyr.com