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Easing Holiday Stress at Work

Date: 12/01/22

Can Supervisors Ease Holiday Stress at Work?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? Well…maybe not so much. A recent Morning Consult/American Psychiatric Association survey showed that more than 40% of people feel more stressed at the holidays than the rest of the year.[1] The holiday stress many of us feel because of social, money, and family demands can carry over into the workplace, too, hurting morale and productivity. Last month, we talked a little about how individuals can deal with holiday stress. This month, we’re going to talk about how managers can help their employees who are feeling stressed (or at least, not add to their stress)!

How does holiday stress affect the workplace?

At the holidays, employees find themselves in a real time crunch. They are trying to fit shopping, family, and social obligations into a work schedule that might have end-of-year deadlines. In addition, they may be feeling a recent loss, have concerns about caring for children who have time off school, or worrying about a tight budget. This can cause short tempers, trouble concentrating, lower productivity, and even an increase in absenteeism.[2]

How can managers help lower stress at work?

If you’re a manager concerned about the levels of stress your employees feel around the holidays, you’re not alone. Often, managers are limited in the amount of relief they can give, but there may be some simple things you can do to help:[3][4]

  • Be flexible. It’s doubtful you as a supervisor can just close the company down for a couple of weeks to give your staff some time off. But you may be able to make schedules more flexible so people can run errands or attend special events. This kind of flexibility can lower stress levels in the office and help to keep productivity steady.
  • Plan ahead. This suggestion may seem contradictory to the one above, but sitting down with your staff members in advance to check in about their needs can give employees a sense of control and help create a work schedule that everyone can live with.
  • Be inclusive. Remember that not everyone celebrates the same way. Make sure the event you’re creating to boost morale doesn’t exclude some members of the team. Avoid having events that are very specific to one holiday or another. Even if everyone in your current group celebrates a certain holiday, what happens when you hire someone who doesn’t? You might even want to consider scheduling the “holiday” party in January or February.
  • Set realistic expectations. Recognize that the holidays are a busy time for everyone. Consider moving deadlines to after the new year if possible. Set a good example for your staff by demonstrating a healthy work/life balance.
  • Show your gratitude. Instead of another mug or cap, show real gratitude for your staff. Compliment them sincerely for the work they do all year and call out their talents and contributions. If you can, consider giving the gift of time – a few hours or a day away from the office can help them come back refreshed.

Your EAP can help

If you or your employees are feeling overwhelmed by the holidays, your EAP can help. We have many online stress reduction resources or can provide referrals to counselors or resources in the community at no cost to you.


[1] PowerPoint Presentation (

[2] Holiday Stress and Its Impact at Work - My HR Professionals

[3] Reduce Stress in Your Office This Holiday Season (

[4] Holidays Can Be Stressful. They Don’t Have to Stress Out Your Team. (