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Here are the top holiday work stressors and how to handle them

With Thanksgiving around the corner, the holidays are the perfect time to relax and indulge — but that doesn’t always make for smooth sailing at work.

By Jane Burnett

With Thanksgiving already around the corner, the holidays are the perfect time to relax, see family and friends, and indulge in all your favorite treats — but that doesn’t always make for smooth sailing at work.

Staffing firm Accountemps recently released data showing that for 32% of American workers, managing holiday and work commitments is the top office-related stressor this season.

So the holidays don’t do wonders for everyone’s mood. While 51% of respondents reported that they’re happier in the office when the holidays come around, 35% said their stress surges there at that time, according to the news release.

Researchers surveyed more than 2,700 employees employed in 27 major cities in the U.S. Here are some of the findings, and what can be done to ease stress around the holidays.

Here’s how American employees feel during the holidays

Respondents said the most stressful elements of working during such a festive time included returning from leisure time to a lot of assignments — plus the lack of employees to pick up the slack.

Accountemps also ranked major U.S. cities in terms of how cheerful and how stressed out their workforces are during the holidays.

San Francisco came in first as the happiest, with New York in second place and San Diego in third place. Cleveland and Philadelphia were the least happy, tied in twenty-sixth place.

Pittsburgh was the most stressed, with Philadelphia in second place, and both Cleveland and Salt Lake City tied for third place. San Francisco was the least stressed, in twenty-seventh place.

Here’s how workers and employers can make it through

Being strategic can go a long way.

Give employees a leg to stand on

Don’t stretch workers too thin — give them options and bring in extra support.

Michael Steinitz, executive director of Accountemps, commented on the research in a statement showing how employers can help.

“Between professional responsibilities and personal commitments, it’s all too easy for employees to become overwhelmed during the holiday season. Managers can support their teams by allowing more flexible schedules and bringing in temporary staff to assist with year-end projects. Workers should take time off to enjoy the season with family and friends and avoid burnout that could carry over into the new year,” he said.

Walk it off

This could help during the holiday season as well.

Albert Ray, M.D., of Kaiser Permanente Southern California, writes on the Society for Human Resource Management’s website about how workers and companies can use exercise to combat stress.

“Sticking to a regular exercise program of brisk walking can boost a person’s immune system. Even low levels of aerobic exercise help. Just 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week is effective. Managers can add walking breaks or other exercise to meeting agendas. Scheduling 15-minute walking breaks during long meetings helps reduce stress that might have built up. Employees typically come back refreshed and ready to work,” he writes.

Get organized

The Accountemps research news release featured a suggestion about getting organized during the holiday season.

“Make a list and check it twice. Before leaving work, write down top priorities to accomplish the next day. Keep a separate list for personal to-do’s. This will help you manage priorities, improve productivity and reduce stress during the holidays,” it says.

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