How to support your employees during the festive season

Business Man Sitting at Desk Struggling while wearing Christmas hat with a Christmas Tree in the background

Your employees are one of the most valuable assets your business has so it makes sense that you want to look after them. However, Christmas can cause extra pressure and stress on your staff. Not only is it a busy time personally, if there is also additional demand on the business during this time, your workforce can really start to feel the strain and need extra support. Here are some tips on how to support your employees during the festive season:

 

What do employees want?

While you may think your offering of an expensive Christmas party is more than generous but is that what your staff really want? Research shows that 60% of employees would actually value flexible working hours or an earlier finish time at this time of year.

Speak to your staff to identify what they would find most helpful and whether money for a Christmas party would be better spent in other areas that would support your workforce more effectively.

 

Help with finances

Christmas can be an expensive time for most people, with the average household spending £500 more during December. 43% of people surveyed identified managing their personal expenses as one of the leading causes of holiday stress.

Consider how you might be able to support your employees with this. Could you set up a budgeting workshop to help them put together a plan for December and the coming year? Perhaps you could arrange for a finance professional to speak to those individuals who are really struggling to help them get their finances back on track. Find out more by contacting us here.

 

Requests for time off

It’s inevitable at this time of year more people will want time off to attend school plays, carol concerts etc. Anticipate the extra demand and make sure you have a system in place, with a clear process that is communicated to everyone.

 

Workload increase

If Christmas is one of your business’s busiest times of the year, then is the workload for each employee also increased during the festive season?

It may not be that your company is any busier, however, if you close for Christmas and New Year people may have less time to complete all the work they would usually deliver.

This pressure can cause extra stress, and there could be a risk that some things will not get done or not be to the standard usually expected. Consider whether you need to provide extra temporary staff for this period to help with the increased demand on your workforce’s time.

 

Inclement weather

It’s not often we have a white Christmas in the UK, but it does occasionally happen and can cause havoc with your staffing levels if you do not prepare adequately. Even if your local high street is not turned into a real winter wonderland, your employees may still have issues getting to work. We all know that leaves on the line often result in trains not running.

What contingency do you have in place should this occur? Do you have a bank of staff that live locally and would be able to cover an additional shift should you need them? Could employees work from home? What technology do you have that could allow your workforce to stay in contact and receive communications from the business? Do all staff know what the process is should they not be able to get to work?

Don’t be caught out by bad weather, start planning now.

 

Christmas Party

With 71% of employers providing a Christmas party, it’s likely you have also made arrangements for some Christmas festivities with your workforce.

However, the mix of festive cheer and alcohol can often cause HR issues. Put in place some guidelines around expected behaviour and that all staff are clear on what is appropriate.

Think carefully if you plan to offer alcohol. A free bar may seem like a generous Christmas gift, but is it necessary. A survey last year showed that drinking too much came highest on a list of most inappropriate behaviour at a works Christmas party. Ensure you have a process in place to deal with any fallout from the event.

 

Alternatives to a Christmas party

It may be difficult for some employees to attend an evening event. They might have young children or caring responsibilities that preclude them from joining in.

As an alternative, you could provide other ways for them to enjoy some festive cheer with their colleagues. Perhaps have a lunchtime get together in a meeting room with mince pies and non-alcoholic mulled wine, or a spot of carol singing.

 

Quiet areas

What your staff may appreciate more than anything is a calm space they can retreat to if needed. Consider providing a quiet area that your team could utilise to either work from quietly or sit and reflect for a few moments.

There may be some employees who find this time of year mentally tough and need a place to get away from the hubbub of the festive season and everyone else’s excitement.

 

Employee well-being

Unfortunately, Christmas can be a time of year that has a negative impact on an individual’s well-being. They may be separated from their loved ones, dealing with the loss of a partner or perhaps they will not be able to spend Christmas with their children due to a family breakdown. Financial concerns can also be highlighted at this time of year and could start to affect a person’s mental health.

If you have an employee benefits scheme that provides counselling support, then ensure all staff know how to access it. Additionally, provide staff with information on places they could go for free advice and assistance with their finances and mental health. Find a list of them here.

If you don’t have an employee benefits scheme offering, then now is the ideal time to consider setting one up to provide real value to your staff and help them feel valued by your company. There are many cost effective solutions available so you can tailor it to your own company and staff’s needs.

 

While a cheerful work atmosphere is important for boosting morale, employers should also look at other ways to support employees during what can be a stressful period. When your staff feel valued, they will be happier and more productive leading up to Christmas. Having clear processes helps manage expectations, and your workforce is better able to deal with challenges such as inclement weather. While a good employee benefit scheme can provide additional support for your staff’s mental well-being.

If you would like some advice on your workplace in the build-up to Christmas, or at any other time, contact us here. We’d love to help make sure everyone has a very Merry Christmas!

 

Further information

If you found this information useful you may also want to check out the following:

Small business Christmas survival guide

Case Study: How we helped a business reward its staff through employee benefits

Where to start with employee benefits (and why)

 

MRA help individuals, businesses and families achieve the best quality of life they can with the resources they have. MRA specialise in corporate solutions, cash-flow analysis, taxation, debt management, savings and investments, lifestyle planning and much more.

Business Consultants based in East Sussex we service clients across the South East, Sussex and Kent, including smaller towns such as Ashford, Battle, Bexhill, Bodiam, Brighton & Hove, Cranbrook, Crowborough, Eastbourne, Hailsham, Hastings, Heathfield, Herstmonceux, Lewes, Mayfield, Newhaven, Rye, Seaford, Sevenoaks, Tenterden, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.