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Holidays can be stressful. They don’t have to stress out your team.

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Tourists relaxing at a beach. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The festive spirit is everywhere during the holiday season. Yet according to a 2015 Healthline survey, 44 percent of people say they are stressed during the holidays.
Almost half the respondents cite finances as the main culprit for their tension, while being over-scheduled, choosing the right gifts and remaining healthy also contribute to people’s holiday woes.

How can managers help combat stress and keep both productivity and spirits up during the holiday season? Here are a just a few ways:

REACH OUT: According to research from MetLife Employee Benefits, 37 percent of employees decline to attend company Christmas parties. So ask your staff how they want to celebrate the holidays at work. Poll your team — there are plenty of online tools that make it easy to do a simple survey, such as Survey Monkey or Typeform.

BE INCLUSIVE: Mini Khroad, chief people officer at Khan Academy, told me in a recent interview: “The holidays should always be an important time at companies. Ensuring that employees have the ability to recognize national or other holidays, at work and in their personal lives, helps to make the workplace enjoyable for everyone.”

PROTECT PERSONAL TIME: Why not offer one extra day off leading up to the holidays for employees to attend to personal needs like gift shopping, family demands or downtime to regroup? A mandatory day off can make all the difference in employee stress levels. These small but much-appreciated gestures increase loyalty and gratitude among your staff, and Gratitude At Work: Its Impact On Job Satisfaction & Sense Of Community proves that grateful staff are more engaged, community-minded and happier at work.

REBALANCE WORKLOADS: Competing demands sit atop employees’ stress lists. Work and home pressures converge at this time of year, and time seems highly compressed. Plan a review of the workload and see if some project deadlines can be extended into next year. David Almeda, chief people officer at Kronos, told me that “tactics such as rebalancing workload among team members, or allowing atypical works hours for a set period of time, will deliver results, increase employee commitment and materially decrease employee stress.”

GIVE TIME INSTEAD OF GIFTS: Research by neuroscientists demonstrates that we are instinctively made to give. Ben-Saba Hasan, Walmart’s chief culture diversity and inclusion officer, told me: “I believe one of the best ways to manage stress and care for yourself is when you turn your focus toward caring for others first.”

Employees should remember that most holiday-related stressors are self-imposed and preventable. Financial stress can be avoided by purchasing less, overcommitting can be averted by saying no, multitasking brains can be managed with reprioritisation, and exclusion can be prevented by reaching out. Start today. Ask someone how they’re doing. Listen with compassion, empathy and kindness. If needed, offer help.

As we head into the busiest part of the holiday season, much of it can be made more manageable with these tactics. Bringing more awareness to the increased pressure your employees are feeling at home and at work can go a long way toward keeping both productivity and spirits up.

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