Although the holidays are a joyful time, they can also be stressful. With looming year-end deadlines, never-ending to-do lists, and additional financial and social obligations, it is no wonder many employees feel overwhelmed this season. “Festive fatigue,” or the stress brought on by the holidays, is a worrying trend for business leaders, as it signals increased exhaustion and burnout.
From a company culture perspective, you want your employees to enjoy the season, celebrate with family, and enjoy a few days off to recharge and come back in full force in January. But as we know, December also brings increased work pressure as we look to wrap up Q4 on a high note. For this reason, company leaders should focus on giving employees an extra boost to combat a mass holiday productivity slump.
Making Employee Recognition an Everyday Thing
Rewarding people for a job well done and recognizing employee achievements are reliable ways to increase engagement, a sense of purpose, and morale. Make an effort to integrate praise into everyday processes; give shout-outs for a job well done, and showcase small wins to the entire company. We are all highly connected nowadays, so sending a compliment only takes a few seconds via Slack or e-mail; you can even create a Slack channel dedicated to this initiative and keep it going year-round. It is important to note that everyone within your organization should be motivated to give shout-outs to their colleagues, even junior staffers.
Create Mentorship Programs with Company Leaders and Experts
During this hectic time, we need to connect more than ever. Yes, we are all busy, but making time for socializing as a team is important, especially if remote. My recommendation is to create a mentorship program in which senior leadership can teach and talk with employees in a more intimate setting. This initiative will not only make employees more engaged but also keep leadership in touch with the pulse of the organization.
Today’s employees are looking for activities that help them develop their skills and expand their network. Apart from receiving mentorship from company leaders, another great way to meet their needs is by bringing in an outside specialist who can contribute technical expertise that no one within the organization holds. These external mentors can provide employees with a different perspective by sharing their own experiences and discussing best practices.
Facilitate Transparent Communication
One way to help reduce stress and anxiety this holiday season is through transparent communication. If employees have candid insight into the state of their programs, metrics, client relationships, etc., they are more likely to comprehend tasks and enjoy their work. Whether it is during one-on-one conversations or all-hands meetings, encouraging employees to speak up is a critical part of keeping them engaged.Another great alternative to the more traditional presentation format is hosting fireside chats, a method originally used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression. Fireside chats are informal yet structured chats between a guest and a moderator during which the audience can sit back and enjoy the information being presented. Fireside chats are a workplace favorite because they provide valuable information and make the most of guests’ time. For these to be most effective, it is recommended you incorporate live questions from the audience and make the most of the interaction.
Make Mental Health a Priority
Apart from the traditional benefits like health insurance and retirement accounts, investing in employees’ overall happiness and well-being should be at the core of organizational strategies. Mental health is very important, especially during the holidays. According to a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) pre-pandemic report, 64% of people with mental illnesses say holidays make their condition worse. In addition, a survey from the American Psychiatric Association conducted last year discovered that people’s stress levels were five times higher around the holidays. Offer “mental health days” so employees can completely disconnect and take days off. Fostering a culture based on trust in which employees can honestly request time off (not only during the holidays but also throughout the year) is essential for a well-rounded employee engagement strategy.
Workplace success and satisfaction are influenced by mental health. Four-day workweeks improve employee mental health and experience, which benefits both employees and employers. In fact, there have been numerous trials, and the organizations that participated observed an increase in productivity and employee well-being. To unwind and reenergize, employees must find meaning and purpose outside of work.
Make Time for Employees to Give Back
The holidays are a time to give back. Encourage your employees to contribute to charity by offering them time to volunteer with local organizations and nonprofits. Charity initiatives help employees feel supported in their personal lives and are a great source of comfort. Giving back to one’s community while relieving stress can be accomplished through volunteer work.
An effective charitable option to consider is a corporate matching program in which employees can choose a nonprofit to donate to and the company will match the contribution. This initiative supports and encourages employees to contribute to causes they feel passionate about while the company also gives back in a philanthropic effort.
Here’s to a Joyful (and Hopefully Less Stressful) Season
Robust employee engagement strategies are a major determining factor in an organization’s success. As the year comes to a close, I urge you to invest time and effort into initiatives that support employees. When workers feel heard, seen, and understood, they are more likely to bring their best selves to work. Company leaders can increase the level of satisfaction felt by their workforce and also improve the bottom line of their business by cultivating an environment at work that encourages interaction and communication.
If you are looking for methods to improve the culture of your company, connect your employees more closely, and support your diligent workers through the end of the year, I hope some of these ideas resonate with you.
Robert Graham is the CEO of Poll Everywhere. Before this role, he spent over 7 years with Poll Everywhere, working his way up from engineering growth to chief revenue officer, managing teams devoted to the strategic growth of software as a service within the company. Graham is also a Georgia Tech computer science alum.