– by Ainsley Lawrence

– Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer with an interest in the way business, technology, and education intersect with the personal. She loves traveling to beautiful places and is frequently lost in a good book.



The holiday season is often considered one of the happiest times of the year. It can, however, also put a lot of extra pressure on workers, which can contribute to employee mental health issues.

About 15 to 20 percent of the population dread the holidays because of how viscerally painful it can be to attend family gatherings. Essentially, overstimulation can make it hard for them to relax and enjoy themselves.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how holiday stress can impact employees in the workplace and offer tips for HR departments on how to better support the well-being of their workers this time of year.

American Recruiters Recruiting and Staffing ServicesIdentifying Holiday Stress in the Workplace

The first step to addressing holiday stress at work is to learn to identify when your employees are feeling the weight of all the added pressure.

Some key signs to look for that indicate your employees may be suffering due to holiday stress include:

  • Changes in normal behavior, such as an increase in irritability or being more withdrawn;
  • A lack of concentration and focus;
  • Changes in appearance and even hygiene;
  • Increased tension and disagreements between colleagues;
  • Missing work more often or frequently arriving late;
  • Changes in the quality of work submitted;
  • Reduction in productivity.

Of course, it’s important to take preventative measures to prevent employees from becoming too stressed in the first place. But if you do notice signs of added holiday stress, it’s important to address those issues as soon as possible to keep things from getting worse.

Tips for Supporting Employee Mental Health and Well-being During the Holidays

Below are a few tips to help managers mitigate burnout, depression, anxiety, and added stress in the workplace during the holidays.

Encourage physical activity

Don’t just tell your employees to take more breaks if they need to this time of year — actively encourage them to take breaks by promoting wellness activities. Exercise is a great way to improve mental health.

Flexibility exercises, such as yoga, or gentle aerobic activities, such as walking or jogging, are just some of the ways to keep active and fit during the holidays. HR departments could host office stretching sessions or organize a walk to see holiday decorations during a company lunch break to help reduce holiday stress. Just be sure that the activities are suitable for all employees no matter what their age.

Plan for snags ahead of time

The holidays are particularly important for businesses wanting to reach end-of-year goals. But this time can also create a high amount of stress or lead to snags due to the sheer amount of work. For instance, retail businesses might need to contend with higher demand, shipping delays, and winter-weather-related delays during the seasonal rush.
Managers can effectively manage operational delays by creating contingency plans, communicating with staff ahead of time on how to solve problems, and working to improve operational efficiency before the holiday season begins. Managers can use data from past years, including information on employee performance, to determine how to most effectively avoid slowdowns.

It is always a good idea to look into contracting additional staff to work during the holiday season. Not only can this help mitigate the chance of employee burnout, but it can also introduce your company to new talent.

Offer holiday bonuses to reduce financial holiday stress

It’s always important to do things that let your employees know you appreciate all their hard work, but it’s even more important during times of added stress, such as during the holidays. Offering holiday bonuses is a great way to do this as it not only shows your employees that you appreciate their hard work, but it can also help them potentially alleviate financial stress as a result of the holidays.

Organize festive work events to boost morale

For many people, the holidays are not a joyful time of year. Feeling sad, lonely, or more depressed — also known as the holiday blues — is quite common during the holiday season.

One way to help employees, young and old, reduce depression symptoms is to organize work holiday events and celebrations for employees to attend so they don’t feel left out and have people to celebrate with.

Throwing holiday parties and festivities is another great way to show your employees that you are thankful and reward them for their hard work. Office holiday parties can also help bring employees and teams closer together, which can boost employee engagement and morale.


Promote a healthier work-life balance

Not all employees take time off during the holidays. Some would rather work because they don’t have plans anyway, they feel bad taking time off, or they need the extra money. But it’s important to encourage your employees to take time off to rest and take care of themselves.

Promoting a healthier work-life balance shows your employees that you care about them and their well-being, which means they are less likely to experience mental health issues in the workplace. Employees who are encouraged by employers to take time off to rest and enjoy themselves also tend to be more motivated to work harder and be more productive when they are at work.

Provide employee mental health resources

Finally, if you think your employees are struggling with their mental health, whether it’s the holidays or not, it’s helpful to provide them with mental health resources. This can include offering mental health benefits as part of health insurance packages, or it can simply be providing employees with contact information for mental health resources, such as therapy, counseling, and mental health hotlines.

Wrapping Up

When the holidays are approaching, businesses should start paying closer attention to their employees’ health and well-being. It’s easy this time of year to let things slip when there is so much on your plate, but employee well-being is crucial and not something to overlook. It can lead to reduced productivity, lower retention rates, and employee mental health issues.

So take the time to show your employees that you care by encouraging healthier behaviors, offering them outlets for their stress, and providing them with any additional resources they might need to better manage their holiday stress in and out of the workplace.

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