Holiday Stress| Employer Tips to Help Your Employee’s Season Be a Little More Merry and Bright

Behavioral Health

Holiday Stress | Employer Tips to Help Your Employee’s Season Be a Little More Merry and Bright

The holiday season is filled with activities to bring us together and help spread joy and happiness to others. However, the holiday season can also be stressful, and with the additional strain from the pandemic over the past few years, everyday stressors can have a larger impact on your employee’s mental and physical health.

We all feel stressed from time to time, but the holidays offer their own special strains that can pervade into the workplace and lead to a reduction in productivity. It is important for managers and HR supervisors to understand how to help identify and address issues stemming from employee’s holiday stress in the workplace.

There are warning signals that indicate that an employee may be experiencing higher-than-normal holiday anxiety. These signs can all be indicators of increased stress.

  • Change in behavior, such as increased sensitivity and anger
  • Lack of focus or concentration
  • Change in quality of work performance
  • Unusual tension with peers and teammates or withdrawn behaviors
  • Change in appearance or hygiene
  • Increased tardiness or absenteeism

Opportunities for Employers to Provide Support to Help with Holiday Stress

Employers are becoming increasingly focused on the well-being of their workforce—physically, financially and emotionally. Guiding employees to the services available through your benefits program is a critical communication opportunity to connect employees to the resources they may need to help them through the holiday season.

  1. Enhance Well-Being Programs. Incorporate wellness breaks to allow employees to refocus, such as a walk outside or access to meditation series and yoga. Encourage employees to stay home when sick to help mitigate the spread of illness in the workplace and give employees information on how to help them stay healthy.
  2. Support Time Off and Flexible Working Arrangements. Many employees may need increased flexibility in work-from-home arrangements, alternative work schedules, etc. Encourage employees to seek work/life balance, including time away. Remind employees they have options, including talking to their manager if they need time to cope with family issues. Help employees prioritize projects to manage deadlines that might be causing added stress.
  3. Create Internal Networking Groups. Many employers have Employee Resource Groups for like-minded colleagues to strengthen communities and provide support. Motivate employees to work together as a team to share the workload, connect with one another, share ideas and receive peer-topeer support—and help them feel more connected to one another and your company.
  4. Lean on Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Often an under-promoted and under-utilized benefit, your EAP can offer meaningful support to employees concerned with their emotional wellbeing. These confidential and no-cost opportunities to be connected with mental health professionals, helpful resources in your community and more can be a lifeline for a struggling employee.
  5. Reinforce Mental Health and Substance Abuse Coverage. If needs extend beyond what your EAP can provide, be sure employees understand benefits coverage for mental health and substance use disorder services if they are enrolled in your medical plan. Benefits generally include behavioral health treatment like psychotherapy and counseling, mental health inpatient services and treatment for substance use disorder.

Tips for Employees

Being realistic, practicing positive self-talk and identifying your own limits can help ward off stress and depression. Below are some practical tips to minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays.

Dr. Joel Axler

National Behavior Health Leader