The holiday season is the time of the year that we take some time off, renew bonds with loved ones, do a little (or a lot) of shopping, and attend a party or two. However, for nearly 90% of people in the United States, the holidays are also the most stressful time of the year. It’s only natural that some of this holiday stress may carry over into the workplace during the fourth quarter, so it’s important for highly functional teams to equip themselves with the knowledge and tools to brave the season.
Keep reading to learn how you can overcome these barriers and make the holiday season a productive time of celebration and team-building.
Recognize holiday stress and own it
It’s 2022, and we have enough science and anecdotal evidence to know that the “put your head down, grit your teeth, and just power through it” approach doesn’t always work.
Acting like holiday stress doesn’t exist isn’t a sound strategy for dealing with it. Recognize that the holidays are rough on many people, and start sending regular company emails that offer tips to brave the holiday doldrums.
Own the holiday stress epidemic by also brainstorming what you can do about it. If you want to retain your best employees in the new year, address the most common gripes that have people stressed out and looking for new jobs, such as paid time off, flexibility in work schedules, desire for remote work, and a larger focus on mental health.
Close out the year by polling your employees on these sorts of matters. Use the feedback to see what changes you can make, and communicate with the team to let them know they’ve been heard and that reasonable fixes will go into place.
Bring in experts for workshops
Let the experts take charge to help your employees deal with stress and burnout. There are several areas you can help employees reduce their stress and learn strategies that they can carry into their personal lives.
Examples of experts that you can hire to host company workshops include:
- Mindfulness professionals that can teach your team meditation techniques, breathing exercises, and ways to live in the moment
- Chiropractors who can offer adjustments and exercises to offset the physical trauma that comes with sitting at an office desk all year
- Massage therapists to offer free massages and spread awareness about the physical effects of stress
- Professional coaches to teach strategies on time management, organization, and prioritizing tasks
- Mental health professionals to offer therapy sessions
Highly functional teams empower each other to be their best inside and outside of the workplace. Workshops like these will provide tools that your team can use to improve their productivity during the season and their overall wellbeing.
Reward your team members
Find ways to reward your team for hard work and a job well done throughout the year, and take time to celebrate achievements. When your employees are recognized, your company will experience:
- Greater team morale and productivity
- Increased productivity
- Eagerness to collaborate and brainstorm fresh ideas
- Motivation to achieve more and outdo prior accomplishments
- A strengthened company culture and higher employee retention
Increase engagement among your team by fostering challenges centered around performance goals or sales numbers. Verbal affirmation goes a long way, but take it a step further by publicly recognizing your team with awards ceremonies. Give out recognition plaques, company apparel, or fun gadgets that your team will appreciate.
Be liberal with time off and vacation
Relief from burnout is the greatest gift you can give your team this holiday season. Plan your goals and have backup plans in place to allow employees time off when they need it.
Having these plans in place builds camaraderie and demonstrates to your employees that you value their personal wellbeing and plans. Vacation day policies should factor in the busy nature of the holidays and lay out options accordingly for employees, so they have the time they need to travel or prepare for the holiday season outside of work. When they are allowed this time, they can bring more energy and focus to the workplace when they’re on the clock.
Improve communication and engagement
Revisit your team’s communication strategies and find ways to optimize and improve every method that you use. Highly functional teams are mindful of each channel they use to communicate, including:
- Verbal – In-person conversations, telephone and audio chats, and Zoom/video calls
- Non-Verbal – Tone of voice, facial expressions, posture, and body language
- Written – Slack, email, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools
- Visual – Presentations, videos, and charts
Strong teams also emphasize active listening and asking open-ended questions. Not only does your team’s communication with each other matter, but the way you communicate with them matters as well. If you’re leading a team, be sure to provide benchmarks to look forward to so that your team remains engaged. It’s easier for employees to get through the stress of the holiday season when they’re aware of exciting goals or company initiatives that will take place at the beginning of the following year.
Equip your team with the tools they need to brave the holiday stress
The holidays bring stressors and endless to-dos. When you focus on cultivating a highly functional team, you can minimize the negative effects of the holiday season on your productivity and workplace culture.
In fact, you can use this season as an opportunity for team building, celebrating goals, and getting excited for what the new year will bring. Empower your team by being mindful of holiday stress and building a strategy for communication and wellness around it.
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