How to Not Add Stress to Your Employee’s Gift List

Blog located in Culture posted on November 13, 2014

The many expectations that lay ahead with the holiday season can cause us to feel overwhelmed. Your employees are not exempt from this, of course! As their employer, you need to pay attention to the signs of stress.

In a poll of 600 full-time employees, Accenture’s HR Services found that 66% of the respondents reported additional stress at work during the holidays.

Sympathize rather than Empathize.

Wikipedia defines sympathy as a “feeling” which is the perception, understanding and reaction to the distress or need of another human being. As opposed to empathy, which is defined as the capacity to share or recognize emotions experienced by another person.

How does it apply to your employees?

If your employee is feeling overwhelmed and you know it is an unusual emotion, it’s probably caused by an external factor. For example, the holiday season, or even a personal issue. It could manifest as time away from work, or unusual mistakes or signs of stress like getting to work tired in the morning.

When you sympathize with your employee, you tend to share the emotion. Doing so will prevent you from being objective. However, when you empathize, you understand the emotion and therefore you are a lot more objective and can provide advice that will help your employees. In other words you don’t get “sucked in”. Understanding the emotion will also help you with focusing on the job not being done as opposed to the employee’s stress. You will ask more questions, you will, along with your employee, find solutions to alleviate the stress.

Let your Employee Shop Online

Letting your employee shop online during their workday throughout the holiday season is a way of sharing your understanding and can prevent a decrease in productivity. It will also prevent a decrease in your employees’ engagement. Of course you would want to set rules (from example chose specific hours or specific days during the workweek) in order for your employees not to abuse this temporary privilege.

Create a Festive Environment

Throw more regular employees’ lunches in the office. Make sure you provide healthy food to show your employees you care for them. Allow for festive decorations. Organize a gift exchange party.

Ensure a Smooth Transition

Once the holiday season has passed, the stress doesn’t go away. In fact, employees can get hit by a financial burden. As an employer, ease the transition into the standard work atmosphere. Plan a meeting with all your team to present your new year’s business plan and stress upon their valued contribution to that plan. Make them feel engaged and help them with moving forward.

You want to be an employer of choice, but not to the detriment of your business. By showing empathy and make adjustments to your employees’ policies during the holiday season, you will prevent burnout and sick leave and save thousands of dollars.