Too Stressed to Enjoy Christmas?

Already, the wellbeing specialists have received a number of calls from employees worried about how they will ‘draw a line’ under work during the Christmas break, and how they’ll manage the expectations of both family and employers.

Jayne Carrington, Customer and Propositions Director, is concerned too few organisations are aware of the impact their demands on staff may have – even during the festive break from the physical workplace.

“The traditional view is that we all get to look forward to a break away from the office and from our business pressures during the Christmas season, but judging by the calls we’ve been receiving in recent weeks, many employees feel overwhelmed and unable to fully embrace relaxation time.

“Combine the pressure of wanting to take on more work hours as a way of paying for the expense of the festivities, with the fact that most of us have smartphones or devices which are permanently communicating work matters even when we’re not at our desk – and you can see why the pressures take their toll.”

It is estimated that workplace stress affects some 440,000 people in the UK, and costs businesses around 9.9 million lost working days per year.

In 2014/15 stress accounted for 35 per cent of all work related ill health cases and 43 per cent of all working days lost due to ill health.

When not dealt with properly, stress can lead to poor sleeping habits, ongoing fatigue, low energy levels, low nutrition intake and low levels of physical activity – which could all impact on productivity and an under-performing workforce.

Ms Carrington believes the answer lies in better communication with staff and a robust approach to both preventative and responsive workplace wellness issues.

“We can’t automatically expect to wipe out the anxiety or stress that employees feel as they prepare to take time out for Christmas, but every employer can play a role in helping their members of staff view the period as a genuine time for recuperation,” she added.

“Managers can ensure they’re setting deadlines and requirements which are fair and appropriate, and they can also take the time to talk with an employee about any work, or indeed family issues, which might be playing on their mind ahead of the holiday time.

“I’d also encourage all staff to think about which of their colleagues might seem a little anxious and stressed. Just talking to a colleague can make a big difference and can really enable someone to fully enjoy their Christmas break in a way they might not have felt possible before.”