Managing Holiday Stress in the Workplace

How managing your stress helps you maintain productivity

For U.S. workers trying to balance year-end work deadlines, holiday office parties and family obligations, the holiday season may not feel so jolly and bright. Balancing the activities and expectations of the holiday season can cause increased stress levels, which may in turn result in lost productivity, absenteeism, illness or other physical and mental health issues for employees.

While it is nearly impossible to eliminate workplace stressors such as year-end deadlines and client service obligations, managers can find creative ways to help employees manage their stress and enjoy the holiday season.

Establish perks

It does not have to be expensive to put a smile on employees’ faces. While financial bonuses are generally a welcome gift to team members, managers can find other creative ways to reward employees. Free food, additional time off and freebies such as tickets to movies, sporting events, spa services or online movie and magazine subscriptions are all affordable perks that can show employees they are appreciated, which in turn can help relieve stress.

Maintain accessibility

During stressful times such as the holiday season, supervisors should make an effort to interact with their employees on a regular basis and maintain an open-door policy whenever possible. Ensuring the line of communication stays open is especially important when an employee is showing signs of stress or burnout and may need support from management.

Keep priorities in check

Particularly during the holiday season when there are so many competing priorities outside of work, it can be helpful for managers to remind employees of the big picture and meet with them on a regular basis to ensure that their focus is on the most crucial tasks. Working with employees to set realistic deadlines can help ease unnecessary anxiety that stems from attempting to get everything done before family comes into town.

Communicate gratitude

Sweet treats, decorations and holiday parties certainly bring cheer to the office and can make the difference in keeping employees motivated during the cold holiday months. However, when supervisors take time to bring the spirit of gratitude into the office and let employees know their work is appreciated, it can boost morale. A simple ‘thank you’ or other words of encouragement can be enough to remind employees that their hard work does not go unnoticed, particularly during busy seasons.

Focus on support

During the holidays when stressors are usually higher, it can be helpful to remind employees of key workplace benefits such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), which may come at no additional cost. These programs can help team members find much-needed assistance with professional or personal issues, including depression, substance abuse or financial concerns. EAPs provide confidential counseling and referral services from trained professionals. Employees may be hesitant to take advantage of these benefits out of fear that the information will not stay private but by reiterating the structure and benefits of these programs, managers can help employees access the support they need to thrive.


Managing stress can benefit employees both in and out of the office. By providing support during the holiday season, managers can help their teams stay productive at work while keeping stress levels at bay, which can lead to a merrier holiday season for all.

Niki Jorgensen is director of service operations with Insperity, a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions.

Categories: Management & Leadership