In today’s busy world – where most adults are on the go from sunup to sundown – it’s hard to help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. When the holidays arrive, however, life gets even more hectic.
Human resource leaders may find that employees feel especially taxed when they must add a whirlwind of holiday planning to their already formidable list of professional responsibilities and personal demands. With this in mind, forward-thinking HR executives should be particularly mindful of promoting employee well-being during the holiday season to reduce stress and boost productivity in the office.
So how can you help? Here are some tips for helping employees maintain a healthy work-life balance this holiday season.
Remind them holidays are the perfect time for personal time
Many people are so overwhelmed by their work responsibilities that they never actually take the time off that they are entitled to have. This can lead to many issues, including errors, stress, and burnout, which are far more disruptive than having someone absent for a day or two.
The holidays are the perfect time for employees to cash in their personal time and vacation days. Doing so allows them to juggle their personal responsibilities and take some much-needed time off when your organization is probably not too busy. During the holidays, most companies take a step back (with the exception of retailers, of course), which helps create that vital healthy work-life balance.
Encouraging your employees to take advantage of their time off during the holidays can do wonders. Many people feel guilty about taking time off or worry that doing so will reflect poorly on their reputation within the company. It’s a great idea to remind employees that the holidays should be a time for enjoying and celebrating with family and friends. This might make more people feel excited, rather than guilty, about using their time off.
More HR leaders recognize the importance of work-life balance—make room for it
As a nation, our record for work-life balance is pretty crummy. In fact, the United States is 30th in terms of work-life balance. Our 24/7 work culture is damaging to our health, happiness, and productivity. Many Americans routinely work overtime and simply don’t take enough vacation time to recharge and reset.
Most HR leaders understand that this trend is not the key to business success or workers’ health and well-being. Smart HR professionals know that people are more than what they do in the office and that by having time to build their relationships and hobbies or even just time go to the gym and cook healthy meals at home, they are happier and more productive when they are at work.
Around the holidays, that balance becomes even more important. People feel resentful if they feel like they have to be at work when they want to be at home with their families. They may also be unable to properly prepare for their celebrations when they stay late to work.
Even if your company routinely sees people working overtime or prefers that employees come into the office, consider a change this holiday season. Perhaps let people work from home around the holidays if they wish, or encourage people to go home at 5 instead of 7.
Remember, one size doesn’t fit all
Employees have lots of different traditions and situations around the holidays, and it’s important to remember that this time of year is about more than Christmas. Embracing the true diversity of your organization means that no one feels left out by your holiday celebrations.
You could think about making your holiday parties more generic “holiday-themed” and ensure that lots of different food options are available. You could also ask your employees to submit their own traditions and build “theme weeks” celebrating different traditions.
During the holidays, it’s important to remember that everyone’s holiday experience is different and should be accommodated.
Set a good example this holiday season
In HR, balancing the needs of the business with the needs of the employees is crucial. Around the holiday season, it’s important to prioritize the “life” component of work-life balance. But if you want employees to take a step back and feel comfortable focusing on their families, then it’s important to ensure that upper management and HR are setting good examples.
Take a step back yourself. Don’t send any emails after hours. Stop and take a breath and enjoy whatever traditions are important for you. You’ll remember those moments for far longer than that email you sent at 10 PM.
Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.