Employee wellbeing over the Christmas Period

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Health Assured team

03 December 2018

Along with the ailments that are common around this time of year, such as colds, flu and sickness, many organisations suffer from high levels of absences due to employee mental health and wellbeing.

In fact, according to the Mental Health Foundation, 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.

There are many reasons why employee wellbeing can suffer around the festive period. Workloads often increase as people try to finish their projects before the break, many people have money concerns if they have overstretched themselves financially. The weather can also have an impact on employee wellbeing due to the shorter days providing less sunlight.

For people with domestic or marital problems, the prospect of spending a week with family may not be as joyous or festive as it otherwise might be; whilst for others who may not have anyone to spend Christmas with, it can prove an equally difficult period.

The impact of staff absence, combined with the drop it produces in productivity, represents one of the biggest threats towards the wellbeing of your organisation.

Stress, anxiety and depression not only leads to repeated and lengthy absenteeism, but even the employees who do manage to continue working while suffering from stress often demonstrate reduced performance and productivity as well as low morale.

From an employer’s perspective, being vigilant in helping those employees who might not be coping well over Christmas is vital. Proactive employers recognise that by helping and supporting their employees, they can help to prevent absence in the workplace and can significantly reduce the length of absence. This is a beneficial situation for both employer and employee. Forward-thinking organisations invest in their employees’ wellbeing before absence impacts both their performance and that of the business.

Below are several tips on how to effectively manage and improve employee wellbeing over the festive season:

1. Embrace the festive spirit

Help engage employees and boost their morale by embracing Christmas festivities and incorporating them into the workplace. This could include arranging a Christmas party for your team or simply hanging decorations around the workplace.

2. Define holiday working policies

Working practices tend to alter over the festive season, you may have less staff available, or more working from home. Managers and team leaders on annual leave can result in a reduction in quality checks or support networks in place for those continuing to work.

It is a good idea to internally communicate any changes to working practices promptly and efficiently. You should ensure that all senior staff member’s annual leave dates are distributed to the relevant team members, and that there is a defined hierarchy of who is available to contact, should they need help. This also protects those on annual leave who may worry about ‘switching off’ from work, if they have team members or colleagues still working.

3. Promote healthy choices

As Christmas is a period of indulgence, with people traditionally consuming more food and alcohol than they normally would, you could consider offering healthy alternatives at the workplace during the festive period. Suggestions include oatmeal cookies, flavoured teas and coated apples.

4. Have a ‘Return to Work’ plan in place

After being away from work for the festive season, many employees experience worry and uncertainty before returning. To help combat this, work with your management team to create department and individual return to work plans. Make sure that you include blocking out the first few days to help deal with backlogs of work and urgent tasks.

If you would like to find out more information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Health Assured on:

0844 892 2493

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