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Protecting Employee Mental Wellbeing at Christmas

Christmas is meant to be ‘the most wonderful time of year’ but it can, unfortunately, take a toll on our mental wellbeing.

This is the case both in and out of the workplace where your employees can become overwhelmed in each scenario. The last rush to finish tasks in the office and the panic of getting the right gifts or preparing for family visiting. You can see why anxiety can occur.

So, what can you, as a business owner or manager, do to protect or help your employees’ mental health at Christmas? eCo2 Greetings is here to help you with some ideas on how to do what’s right by your employees over the festive period.

Read on to find out how you can help protect and support your employees’ mental wellbeing at Christmas…

Why can mental wellbeing suffer at Christmas?

Work is often busy, but at Christmas, the final few weeks before the big day can become overwhelming as we try to finish as many tasks as possible.

Anxiety is widespread at Christmas. Some of your staff may feel they have too much to do to focus on their work. It’s understandable with a young family or looking after relatives, especially if you have people staying at your home. 32% of employees say they have too much to plan ahead of Christmas day, according to HR analytics firm, Peakon.

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Just think about some of the potential anxiety-causing issues at your business. Office parties, meet targets, shop for ‘Secret Santa’ and then try to resist festive goodies that are readily available. Outside of the workplace, employees may be juggling other tasks to ensure that they and their family have the best Christmas possible.

When you combine the impact anxiety can have on staff with burnout, Christmas at your business can be unhappy. When Christmas rolls around, it can be the light at the end of the tunnel for employees. 21% of staff can admit to feeling ‘burnt-out’ in December and being so rundown can make your mental health more vulnerable.

42% of workers say that December is their most stressful time of year, according to HR Director. Workplace stress is directly related to physical wellbeing, with exposure resulting in a range of health issues. Stress can also have long-term implications for employee’s engagement, motivation and commitment. Their productivity will likely suffer.

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Mind, the mental health charity, found that 1 in 10 people feel unable to cope at Christmas. With a population of over 66.5 million in England, that means that over 6.65 million people potentially feel unable to cope.

So, you have to understand that we’re all human and try to understand what is going on with your staff.

What can you do to help employee mental wellbeing at Christmas?

As an employer, you have a duty of care to look after your employees and there are various measures you can take to protect their mental wellbeing.

Provide support tools and opportunities

For some, the festive period can prove challenging due to a variety of personal reasons. These can include financial pressures to family problems, loneliness, health worries or stress. Whatever your staff may be going through, it’s important to provide support.

Read more: What to Write in a Business Christmas Card

If you have in-house support services, ensure these are accessible, promoted and well-resourced. Make the necessary key information available for staff. Go beyond an “open door policy” and ensure staff know where to go for help. Brief your line managers on signs of stress to help identify any red flags and address staff concerns.

Offer an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)

These are a fantastic resource that is paid for by you for your employees. They are confidential and can be available 24 hours a day. They offer a wide selection of support and, contrary to popular belief, are not just about counselling.

If you do offer this resource, do promote your EAP at the workplace. You can do this by sharing details on how they can help people struggling with mental health over the festive period. Professionally trained consultants are available to help with a range of issues that may be affecting your employees’ personal or work life.

Don’t assume anything – listen

You should never assume anything when it comes to your staff’s mental wellbeing. They may not need help or may feel they are able to manage the symptoms themselves. Likewise, don’t assume everyone is fine because they haven’t said anything. They may need support every now and again when they are going through a difficult period.

Read more: How businesses can save themselves & employees money at Christmas

Listen to your employees and respond flexibly. Make sure that they, and not their problem, is the focus. Adapt the support you offer to suit each employee and make sure that they are involved in finding solutions to any work-related difficulties. Being aware of the types of workplace adjustments before you have conversations will allow you to offer suggestions.

Encourage your employees

You need to encourage your staff to come forward and talk or seek support. It can be difficult to talk about mental health, as it’s still a taboo for many. Asking simple open questions and letting people speak about their issues in their own words will help. Ask what they think may be causing their problems, how it affects their life and what support they are getting or need.

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Your employees should be encouraged to seek help themselves, if they haven’t already, or come to you. An employee assistance programme (EAP) can offer advice and helplines. Just remember that people may not want to talk straight away. If they don’t, let them know what support is available and that it’s there for whenever they feel able to talk.

Learn more about festive eCards with eCo2 Greetings and how to reduce your environmental impact.

Learn more about what you can do to protect the environment and reduce your carbon footprint with our eCo2 Greetings blog.

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