Managing Christmas stress in the office

18 December 2017. Features.

Our latest winter survey reveals that over 50% of respondents feel stressed in the weeks leading up to Christmas and significantly minority aren’t bought in to office festivities. Our latest blog explores the common causes of winter stress and how employers can support employees in this busy festive time.

With 54% of respondents saying they feel stressed in the lead up to Christmas holidays, it’s clear there are issues that needs to be addressed to help improve staff wellbeing and productivity. In our survey, many employers offer the typical holiday benefits, such as Christmas parties, office decorations, team outings and lunches, but what employees value more are perks such as more flexible hours and finishing early on agreed days to help them cope with the demands of the festive season.

On office Christmas parties, a clear majority (69%) said parties help them bond and build relationships with colleagues and the majority of staff (65%) said they enjoyed attending their office party. There is however a significant minority (31%) and (35%) who aren’t so keen to attend and don’t see the value in attending office festivities.

Happy office winter survey highlights

  • Holiday stress – 54% of employees say they are stressed leading up to the holidays with buying Christmas presents (56%), finishing work (49%), increasing workload (44%) and managing personal expenses (43%) the top causes of stress
  • Most common Christmas perks offered by employers – Christmas party (71%), Christmas tree and office decorations (61%) and secret Santa (46%)
  • Most desired Christmas perks by employees – flexible hours or early finish (60%), relaxed dress code (34%), team outings/lunches (33%), Christmas tree/office decorations (32%) and a Christmas party (30%)
  • Christmas party value – 69% say that the Christmas party helps them to build friendships with colleagues and 65% of UK workers say they enjoy attending their annual Christmas party
  • Inappropriate Christmas party etiquette – drinking too much (66%), flirting with a colleague/boss (55%) and gossiping about the company or colleagues (51%) were rated the most inappropriate Christmas party behaviour 

While the Christmas holidays are a time of celebration for most, it can also be a time when employees feel more holiday-related stress due to buying presents, finishing projects and managing their personal finances. They also want to partake in social events with their colleagues but often this interferes with their work and personal plans.

How to help counter winter stress in the workplace 

  • Trust and flexibility – allow employees to manage how they complete their work and manage their personal commitments. 60% of employees say that flexible hours or early finish would be the most beneficial for them during this period
  • Create an enjoyable and festive atmosphere – set the the mood in the workplace by providing employees with a range of workspaces and trust them to choose where to work from. Especially important are quiet places where people can reflect and collect their thoughts. Create a festive atmosphere by having a Christmas decorations party and spread cheer throughout
  • Alternatives to the Christmas party – for those who don’t enjoy attending their office party, provide other ways for them to spend time with their colleagues such as mince pies, mulled wine or even carol signing
  • Christmas party etiquette – encourage employees to attend your office Christmas party, but remind them of proper party etiquette to avoid any embarrassing situations

As our survey reveals, employees don’t feel that they have the time or resources to complete all their holiday-related tasks and even things like Secret Santa gifts can add to feelings of angst because it is just one more personal task to do. While a cheerful work atmosphere is important for boosting morale, employers should recognise that the best way to boost engagement and motivation during the holidays is to provide employees with more autonomy and flexible working and encourage their input on office festivities. When employees feel that they have more control over their work and have more time to complete their personal errands, they will be happier and more productive leading up to Christmas.

If you would like some advice on your workplace in the build up to Christmas, or at any other time, please drop us a line. We’d love to help make sure everyone has a very Merry Christmas!


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