How businesses can sustain their employee's mental health this Christmas

"Organisations need to focus more on employee wellbeing during this festive period to avoid stress related illnesses."

The Christmas period provides an opportunity for people to relax their minds after a long stressful year of work. As it approaches, people may look to rush to beat deadlines, figure out how they can see family members, buy gifts, and other activities as they wait to open the New Year.

This period puts a lot of pressure on people's minds hence affecting their mental wellbeing. The cause of this pressure is not always due to work demands, but organisations need to focus more on employee wellbeing during this festive period to avoid stress related illnesses. There are huge benefits that come when organisations take control of managing the wellbeing of their employees.

According to the World Health Organisation, companies can save up to £651 billion each year when choosing to adopt steps to enhance work wellbeing early enough. Many employees find it hard to speak out with other employees due to the stigma associated with it. This kind of prejudice makes affected employees shy away from speaking. At the end of it, all those workers will not receive any help at all. A study done by Institution Safety and Health proved this, when it found out that out of five employees, four workers could not speak to their bosses regarding their mental wellbeing due to fear of stigmatisation. Fighting against Christmas stress is necessary to ensure that the year ends smoothly. It ensures that the employees come back feeling motivated and refreshed.

How Can One Manage Mental Health Problems at Work During the Christmas Period?

People always feel down during the Christmas month as it comes during the winter season. People are trying to plan on how they are going to celebrate, after such a calamitous year. It is easy to allow the stress to get to you. Between the years 2008-2015, statistics from the Health and Safety Executive indicated that 44% of workers reported work-related pressure. Being too busy can easily lead to burnout hence affecting the mental health of the employees. The human resource departments of several organisations have noted a high level of absenteeism, low productivity, increased number of employee to employee conflicts and complaints during this period. Sodexo's 2016 research found that 23% of workers in Britain are more stressed as Christmas approaches. Seasonal affective disorders are common during this period due to the cold season that sets in. SAD affects about 3% of the employees in Britain, according to Sodexo. It always impacts people's moods, appetite, sleeping patterns, and self-esteem, leading to low motivated staff. Christmas also comes with feelings of loneliness and grief due to losing a loved one and other family-related issues. These factors are some of the main issues that reflect on the reduced performance at work. Most of these factors can hardly be controlled or eradicated at all, but one can take steps to help reduce the pressure and their impacts both at work and at home. These steps include

1. Develop a Plan for this Season

The festive season is always a difficult day due to the activities associated with it. When it approaches, it is normal to feel overwhelmed by things taking place around you. Whether you will spend the entire period alone or with friends and relatives, have an already made out plan. When planning, eradicate things that you cannot possibly do and maximise on something that will allow you to enjoy the period. Put down a list of tasks that need completion before this period arrives. You can do this by creating a weekly planner and allocate each task at specific periods to enable one to understand what to complete and at what time. Some of these deadlines will be hard to beat, and it is essential to make early communication with the manager to help share the work among other employees. This move helps to avoid burnout due to overloads of work. One can quickly improve workplace mental health by developing a plan early enough.

2. Open Up to Someone at the workplace or home

Feeling lonely is normal during this time. Do not allow loneliness to take a better part of you. Try and open up to someone close to you. It can be a relative, friend, workmate, or family member. Opening up to someone is not as easy as it appears to be. There are several ways in which you can reach out to somebody for help. One can send a simple text, phone call, or by inviting someone over a cup of tea or coffee.

It is easy for someone to express their emotions and feelings to their counterparts during these small sessions. If you offer emotional support to someone, it is essential to take good care of yourself since you may also affect your wellbeing. Sadness also comes up during Christmas if it brings back memories of lost loved ones. It is okay to talk about it and shed some tears about it. Spend some little time so you can think about your loss. However, it is essential not to let it take you away to the point of depression. Remember, when talking to someone; be honest so that you receive the right kind of support. Getting the proper support can help improve employee wellbeing at work during the Christmas period.

Steps Employers Can Take To Fight Christmas-Stress among Their Employees

1. Financial Support

Money becomes scarce as the festive period approaches. The employer must ensure that the work well being of the employees is at its best during this period. Money is the leading cause of mental pressure, and not having enough can impact employees' workplace mental health. Christmas is associated with parties, lots of traveling, and food. In a study by uSwitch, an average family spends an average of £800 during Christmas. 52% of them stated to have a fear of paying Christmas debt by the time December approaches. Reducing stress on employees can be difficult. During the past year, most employers would offer an end-year bonus that came in as money and presents. But due to high taxes, the reward had minimal impact on the expenditure. Rewarding employees with gift cards, vouchers are ideal during this period. Gifts can also come in the form of discounts to help employees save money and take their families out. This move will help reduce work pressure on workers and ensure employee wellbeing. Employers can also take up some costs, such as parking fees, to help reduce financial strain. It would help reduce expenditure and increase savings by employees.

2. Put Up A Work-Life Balance

Most employers and employees have a weak work-life balance. This type of living can easily lead to Christmas pressure. Sodexo's research found out that 34% of people had problems balancing work-related issues with family-related issues. There is a lot of pressure at work trying to accomplish set goals before breaking for the Christmas holiday. At home, tension arises from taking family members out for a holiday, shopping, and traveling to different destinations. Employers should develop flexible working policies to improve the well-being of workers. Some of the mechanisms companies can adopt are working from home. This move can help employees save on transport costs and also have time to spend with their families. Due to the low temperatures of seasonal affective disorder, employers can introduce daylight bulbs that provide a better source of light that resembles natural lighting. These bulbs have a higher lighting rate index hence reduces headaches brought by the poorly lit working environment.

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