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How Spot and Address Employee Seasonal Stress

The coldest and shortest days of the winter bring two important things to office: the festivity of the holidays, and the stress and struggle associated with cold, short days. Both of these lead to a cascade of events and changes that have a larger impact on the business environment than managers often realize. For example, the arrival of a new fiscal year often brings performance reviews and annual budgeting, which in turn bring reflection, renewal, and sometimes high turnover.

Employees who ask for raises and promotions need to choose a course of action if these requests are denied, so many of them step on to the job market at this time. Some companies experience a spike in orders during the holidays, and some experience the opposite—a lull during which the pace slows down and a skeleton crew takes over. In either case, the holiday season can be very stressful, and wise managers recognize the signs and fight back against employee burnout.

1. Look and listen.

When employees sound or look exhausted, it’s because they’re exhausted; it’s not because they’re lazy. Keep an eye out for obvious signs, like drawn expressions, tense moods, and an increase in sick days. Don’t underestimate the power of a word of encouragement.

2. Anticipate personnel issues.

If your employee is expecting a great review and a raise, and you know that he’s going to leave the meeting disappointed, embarrassed, and concerned about the future, get ready for anything. Resilience means different things to different people. Some chastised employees will redouble their efforts to please and impress their supervisors…but many will start looking for new jobs. And some will sulk and stagnate until they settle on a course of action. Stay flexible while your teams reshuffle and reevaluate their relationships with you.

3. Fight illness and injuries.

You can’t control emotional stress or work related stress, but you can exercise a small degree of control over physical illness and injury. Keep your walkways, parking lots and entranceways clean and dry to prevent falls, and be generous with alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Keep dispensers handy and full, and encourage employees to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze and stay home when they feel sick.

4. Pay attention to scheduling and work distribution.

Keep schedules and work tightly controlled and closely monitored. Don’t let projects fall too heavily on one team member while another takes two hour lunches and disappears for days at a time.

For more on how to keep your teams productive, healthy, and content during the holiday season, contact the staffing experts at PSU.