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4 Ways to Help Employees Let Go and Enjoy the Holidays

The holidays bring employee stress and a sense of chaos to the workplace. Boost office morale with these four tips:

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“It’s the holiday season

And employee stress is coming round

The workplace joy just cannot be found

When old Santa gets into town

He’ll be greeted with lots of frowns”

OK, so maybe those aren’t the lyrics, but they sadly paint a pretty accurate picture of offices this time of year. The holidays bring a sense of stress and chaos — both at home and in the workplace. Add year-end goals on top of that, and employees may be reluctant to take much-needed breaks, go home early, call out sick, or even use hard-earned PTO to spend time with their families.

Don’t let the Grinch (aka stress) steal everyone’s holiday cheer! Boost morale and help employees enjoy the holidays with these four tips:

1. Create a relaxed holiday atmosphere

For a nice change of pace, get workers away from their desks by inviting everyone to help decorate the office. Play some Sinatra classics and spend time draping tinsel over cubicles, hanging ornaments, and covering doors in wrapping paper. Consider purchasing diffusers with holiday scents to amp-up the spirit and ease stressed minds.

And if there’s one other thing that will get employees to relax and let go, it’s cookies. Host a cookie decorating contest with a hot chocolate bar on the side (think marshmallows, whipped cream, and candy canes). Peace, love, goodwill, and full bellies to all!

2. Shorten the holiday months

When looking to banish end-of-year employee stress, think through their Q4 workload. How much still needs to be done to meet deadlines? How many hours will it take to wrap up each project? Is it possible to offer a four-day workweek, three-day weekend schedule?

Your gut reaction is probably to say, “no.” However, shorter workweeks have been proven to increase productivity. Take Microsoft’s experiment in Japan, for example. As a seasonal experiment, the company gave its employees five consecutive Fridays off in the summer. The results speak for themselves: sales per employee jumped 40%, electricity consumption dropped 23%, and 94% of employees said they were happy with the program. 

3. Host a lunch and learn

What’s not to love about lunch and learns? They’re informative, help break up the day, and involve food (yum!). What’s more, you get to tailor each event’s content to fit the needs and personalities of your team members. For example, here’s how you could approach employee stress for various worker types — and all ideas that can be hosted virtually as well:

  • The practical ones: Ask a yoga instructor to lead a session focused on chair yoga and other at-your-desk relaxation techniques.
  • The open-minded ones: Bring in a mindfulness coach to teach the principles of — and have employees practice — this type of meditation.
  • The artsy ones: Invite a professional to demonstrate how to make wreaths and bows and other holiday crafts.

4. Roll up your sleeves and jump in

Burnout isn’t just some buzzword; it’s a recognized medical condition. And nearly 70% of professionals feel their employers are not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout within their organization.

One of the most proactive ways to prevent burnout — and help employees let go and enjoy the holidays — is by lending a helping hand. When necessary, get involved with their work. Show them they’re not alone and that you’re there to get them through the end-of-year workload. This will increase trust, satisfaction, and overall office morale.


Val Matta is the co-owner and leader of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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