Employee Assistance For When The Holidays Aren’t So Jolly

The holidays are supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. But for some of your employees, it might not be all holly and jolly. While this time of year provides plenty of excitement and joy for many, it can also be overwhelming or heartbreaking.

Luckily, employee assistance is where HR can (or should) really shine. And while caring for those who are struggling through the holidays is simply the kind thing to do, it’s also something that can help your organization on a strategic level. Like it or not, employees don’t check their emotional state at the door when they clock in.

To help your employees through the holiday season, consider some of the common struggles people face at this time of the year:

Financial Pressure

Whether or not you agree with your employees’ spending practices, the pressure to give and spend during the holiday season is intense. In fact, during last year’s holiday season, the average person took on more than $1000 of holiday debt. For those already struggling to make ends meet, the financial stress of the holidays can be all-encompassing.

Nearly one-third of employees report “that issues with personal finances have been a distraction at work.” What’s more, 46 percent of those distracted employees report spending “three hours or more at work each week thinking about or dealing with” personal finance issues. If this is the way financial stress impacts your employees throughout the rest of the year, imagine the compounded impact of financial stress during the holidays.

Since a hefty raise (and a Christmas goose!) for everyone isn’t always possible, there are other things HR can do to help ease financial stress:

Emotional Distress

Unfortunately, the holidays can hold a magnifying glass up to frayed family situations, loneliness, and other painful, personal tragedies—over 40 percent of people report feeling exhausted and inadequate during the holidays. For some, the chasm they perceive between their own lives and the joy others experience during the holiday season can be crippling.

Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do to remove the personal struggles and pain employees face. However, your organization can provide a safe space and resources to buoy them up.

While you’ll want to be careful when addressing issues like depression with employees (check out the ADA and FMLA guidelines to make sure you’re acting appropriately), there are some steps you can take to help increase emotional health during the holidays:

Time Constraints

Between shopping, baking, decorating, parties, traveling, and stopping by the post office to ship off holiday cards, the holiday season is typically packed with to-dos. And work doesn’t slow down to give employees a break. Whether you work in a retail shop or a corporate office, the end of the year provides plenty of extra work.

Chances are, your employees are stressed about getting everything done, and this stress can lead to poor productivity and disappointment throughout your organization. HR can work with employees to help them understand what is expected of them while enabling them to enjoy the season.

This year, before you launch into full-out holiday mode, take a bit of time to consider the tough situations your employees might be facing. By providing a little bit of support, you can help them battle the financial, emotional, and time stresses that many are feeling and help your organization have a more productive season.

Ready to do more strategic HR work? See how BambooHR can help.