Go back

7 ways to support your employees during the holiday season

December 1, 2023
Leaves of a Christmas tree

We are officially in December, and that means that the most beautiful time of the year is starting — the winter holidays! Whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other festival, this season is marked in almost every culture, and we’re sure you’re mentioning it in one way or another in the office.

However, while beautiful and bright, this season can be tough on many people, for example, those who had a recent death in the family, or people who can’t go home to celebrate with their loved ones. It’s also a period of buying presents — LOTS of presents — which spells financial stress.

So, what can you do to add a little extra joy to your employees’ agenda during this period?

1. Reduce the workload

Of course, the workload is the workload, and there’s not much you can do to manoeuvre this. However, employees sometimes feel overwhelmed or unable to take time off during this period because they are worried about workloads. This period is extremely stressful, and sometimes even just having the right priorities can help.

For example, you could focus on the most important tasks and postpone what’s not absolutely urgent to the new year, reassess project timelines (and change them if possible and necessary), or hire a freelancer or a temp to help with the workload during the holiday season. Whatever you can do to proactively support your employees with their workload and reduce their anxiety will be a huge help to them, and they’ll recognise this.

2. Focus on mental health

While most people in Britain love Christmas, roughly a third of all Brits say their mental health takes a nosedive over Christmas, according to Mental Health UK. This includes sleepless nights, headaches, irritability, and anxiety — not great when you’re trying to juggle work and family!

It’s vital that, as a business, you take proactive steps to support your employees’ mental health over this period and not just assume everybody’s jolly. This can be done in a variety of ways, for example, using surveys and assessments, adding specific mental health questions to 1-2-1s around this time of year, or taking the time to remind your employees of the mental health support you offer year round.

3. Make your gifts count

As mentioned above, mental health is not the only part of our wellbeing that is affected by the holiday season — financial wellness is another important one. Buying a lot of often expensive presents for friends and family can cost an arm and a leg, not to mention the additional cost of parties and events, as well as heating due to the cold. So, the road to financial stress is very short this time of year.

Most businesses like to show their appreciation during the holiday season by giving their employees gifts, which is great! However, in the context of your staff’s financial stress, together with the overall trend towards sustainability, with 70% preferring an eco-friendly gift — it’s particularly important that you seriously consider what gift you’re going to award your employees.

Instead of a bottle of alcohol or a hamper full of snacks they’re never going to eat, an Amazon or supermarket gift card may help them reduce their financial stress, and a subscription to an exercise or meditation app can help improve their wellbeing. It’s important that you discuss with your employees to find out what they’re stressed about, what they’re looking forward to, and what they like to do, and take this into account when choosing a holiday gift for your staff.

4. Motivate volunteering

Beyond helping others, volunteering has many benefits to the volunteers themselves — from counteracting the effects of anxiety, stress, and anger, to increasing self confidence. Allowing your employees to take the time off and volunteer, knowing that their work will be covered, could help them as well as boost your reputation as a company.

You could also offer employees the opportunity to make a donation to a cause they care about, and matching their donations. Alternatively, you could give them a certain amount of money towards donations. Fundraisers during this period are also a great way to boost people’s mood and give them a sense of purpose.

5. Encourage flexibility

The holiday season can be wonderful, but it’s always hectic. People may have relatives staying over, they may be travelling to see family, and they have many more responsibilities for the period. We are big believers in flexibility all year round, but it’s almost a necessity during this time of year! In fact, studies show that employee productivity during the holiday season actually hinges on the ability to work remotely.

You could close the office during the period between Christmas and New Year, or even shut down work for this period, for example. When you organise your office Christmas party, consider remote workers — can there be a part before the party starts that is done on Zoom? For instance, at Thrive, we recently hosted a charades session on Zoom with our remote workers, which was extremely successful.

6. Support parents

Parents have an added layer of anxiety. With schools out of session, parents have to find solutions for their kids during an already stressful time, both financially and mentally. Beyond flexible working, which could be essential for parents during the holiday season, there are other ideas you could consider.

If your office allows it, you could start a creche at work, allowing your employees peace of mind. You could get parents a subscription to an online teaching app, or offer children’s story hour over Zoom to allow remote employees some quiet time from their children. Discuss with the parents in your organisation and think what would work best for your company.

7. Consider diversity

It’s 2023. We all know that Christmas is not the only holiday celebrated at this time of year, and we all know that not every single employee we have celebrates Christmas. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate it at the office — but make sure you keep the non-Christian population in mind! That can be lighting candles for Hanukkah next to a Christmas tree, for example. Just make sure you’re representing your company’s diversity of religions and traditions, and if you’re not sure how to do this, simply ask — your employees will usually be keen to show their colleagues their culture.

Diverse workplaces perform better, are 35% more productive, and are proven to be more creative, so it’s crucial, especially at this time of year when it is sometimes easy to get swallowed in the Christmas mayhem, to celebrate and highlight the diversity of your company.

For more HR and recruitment tips, sign up to our mailing list.

Stay in the know

Subscribe and get Thrive's latest updates and articles straight to your inbox.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.