HR Management & Compliance

Helping Employees Beat the Holiday Blues

With the holiday season almost here, the “most wonderful time of the year” can also be stressful. Addressing mental well-being has always proved a challenge for businesses, but it can feel particularly pointed during the holidays.

An American Psychological Association survey found that 38% of people said their stress level increased during the holidays due to factors such as lack of time and money and family gatherings. With 56% of respondents experiencing the highest amount of stress while at work, the workplace isn’t immune to the holiday blues, and the levels of employee support are expected to increase around this time of year.

Rewarding Employees During the Holidays

Rewarding employees, with a Christmas bonus for example, is a very welcome relief to help with the stress of the holidays, providing financial assistance at one of the most expensive times of the year. However, bonuses have always been about much more than just financial assistance. They’re about recognizing employees for their hard work and dedication over the year. While cash may sometimes be seen as a simple gesture, it’s a great way of showing employees they are valued and an integral part of the business, and it can play a big part in retaining staff into the new year.

However, companies need to be wary of rewarding employees with just a once-a-year payment. Bonuses should be part of a well-rounded employee rewards scheme, rather than being the only reward. A good employee rewards program will help keep employees motivated and incentivized day in, day out and should include both intrinsic and extrinsic benefits.

Training and Development Opportunities

Providing employees with relevant training is a constructive way of showing they are valued and an integral part of the team. Investing in a member of staff’s development and progression is a great way of showing that you believe they have great potential and that you want to help them shine. Ultimately, you as the employer will get greater return on investment, benefitting from a more capable and motivated employee.

Recognize Employees’ Passions

Asking your employees what they are passionate about and trying to find a way to fit these passions into day-to-day working life is invaluable. It is proof that you as an employer care and that your employees’ passions and happiness are important to you.

Some companies have introduced a scheme where they ask employees to submit “passion clients” or companies they’d love to work for, for example. Winning business an employee truly cares about will increase the chances that they enjoy their work and shows you care about their happiness—ultimately increasing morale and loyalty.

Localized Employee Rewards and Perks

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) 2016 Consumer Expenditure Survey, the average American employees spend $3,154 on food away from home. With such a vast amount coming out of their salary, a helping hand is always much appreciated. Something that works well with our customers is rewarding employees with a set of localized perks—20% off at the nearby restaurant, for example—that they are able to take advantage of. It helps save the pennies and shows that you as the employer are doing everything you can to take care of your employees.

A Supportive Culture

This is not strictly a benefit, as such, but important nonetheless and, if successfully implemented, will be a key driver of staff retention. The most engaging workplaces are those that show they care for their employees through creating a culture that is enjoyable to work in. Taking your team out for lunch or after-work drinks can do wonders to boost team spirit, encouraging employees to talk about non-work-related issues, building a bond, and helping colleagues become true friends.

This is key to building a community, as people will be more open with each other, more prone to sharing problems when they feel troubled and, therefore, less likely to suffer in silence. A supportive culture is one where everyone is in it together and is likely to lead to happiness, improving employee morale and productivity.

A Supportive Culture Is a Key Driver of Staff Retention

Therefore, employee rewards schemes need to be well-rounded if they are to work, comprising both intrinsic and extrinsic perks. While money is a great motivator and Christmas bonuses should by no means be removed, ensuring employees are given year-round support and investment is recommended. With these, employees will be aware of their value and importance to the company, and this will ultimately improve staff retention.

A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Employee Assistance Professional (CEAP), Patrick Williams has over 25 years of clinical experience and motivational leadership. He specializes in workplace issues, helping employees learn how to balance their personal and professional stressors. His expertise is in stage-of-life concerns and educational initiatives to help employees manage their personal and professional relationships.


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