Source: Matt Jackson

Bah, humbug? Almost half of Americans in a recent survey would prefer to skip Christmas entirely because it brings too much financial pressure and stress.

Organizations need to recognize the challenges employees face both inside and outside of the workplace and the powerful impact these can have on their overall health and happiness, especially during the holiday season.

The holidays are upon us, but they aren’t always filled with fun, family and friends. On the contrary, the holiday season has the potential to bring about feelings of stress, loneliness and anxiety for many. From decorating, cooking and preparing for guests, to buying gifts and finding the time to wrap them, ho-ho-ho often feels like go-go-go. More than 60 percent of Americans recently said they experience some level of stress during the holidays, while another study found that a massive 45 percent would prefer to skip Christmas entirely because it brings too much financial pressure and stress.

Organizations need to recognize the challenges employees face both inside and outside of the workplace and the powerful impact these can have on their overall health and happiness, especially during the holiday season. In order to mitigate these issues, it is imperative that organizations focus on incorporating effective holiday support into their year-round benefits strategy.

Adding holiday cheer through flexibility

Companies can finish the year on a high by allowing employees to adjust their work schedules according to their needs. Some might benefit from starting earlier while others would prefer to come in later. Remote work is another important option that provides a multitude of benefits. Giving employees the option to work from home may mean they feel more relaxed and are able to get more done in spite of holiday stressors. They will also benefit by not having to commute to and from work, providing them with more time to spend with family and friends, or simply to get things done.

What’s more, those who work from home have been shown to be more productive, working an additional 1.4 more days per month. This is a win-win for both employees and employers and should alleviate any fears around productivity and flexible working. Beyond that, there can be additional long-term payoffs for companies: our research found that 80 percent of HR decision-makers believe that flexible working arrangements are important when considering talent retention.

Celebrating good times

The holidays aren’t solely about time away from the workplace–they can be a time to embrace the work environment as well. Employers can engage with their teams by offering a potluck ahead of Thanksgiving, a special holiday meal in December, or an office celebration before the New Year. These gatherings give employees the chance to connect with one another–supporting their social well-being.

And these kind of social well-being benefits are increasingly valued by global employees, who feel the isolating effects of digitalization. Research conducted among 2,000 UK employees revealed that almost a third (31 percent) are kept awake at night by workplace stressors, including their interactions with management and colleagues, while 25 percent worry about relationships with the people that they care about.

These factors are deemed far more stressful than current debts (20 percent) or caring responsibilities (13 percent). In order to overcome these challenges, it is essential that every employee feels like a connected and valued member of the team. And not just at the holidays – organizations can continue to build on those social connections throughout the entire year with activities like group exercise classes, “bring your pet to work” days, or company-wide charity fundraisers.

Offering a more personalized approach

During this stressful time of year, companies offering wellness pots to support employees’ mental and physical well-being are automatically ahead of the curve. The power of a wellness pot is that it allows employees to choose how they spend a wellness allowance from their employer on the activities that have the biggest impact on them. For example, one employee might take yoga classes while another joins a mindfulness program and a third takes up drumming lessons. Wellness pots provide flexibility for a company to support employees across a wide range of activities.

A truly happy new year

The holidays don’t have to be a time of stress, loneliness and anxiety. While they might seem overwhelming at times, employers can do their part by providing a holistic well-being strategy that’s broad enough to serve everyone but can be personalized to meet the needs of each individual employee. In doing their part and creating touch points with employees, and allowing them to enjoy the moments that matter, employers are paving the way for a happy and productive 2020.

 

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