Stress has a way of creeping into our lives on a consistent basis, but there are times when stress becomes our daily companion. When stress affects our employees, as leaders we need to step up and lead.
Over and over again we remind leaders that leadership is about relationships, management is about the task at hand. The people who report to you need leadership when stress levels are high.
During the holiday season it is not uncommon to see stress levels rise. Employees begin to feel the pressure of the holidays prior to Thanksgiving and that pressure runs through the New Year. The New Year doesn’t always put our employees back on track as stress levels can remain the same or rise if they are now dealing with added financial liability after the holidays, or missing family they didn’t see over the holiday season – or family they rarely see that have to leave “oh so soon”.
1. Job Expectations - Employees have at the very least the same expectation at their job, but many employees see increased stress levels in their position as they push to meet not just monthly, but year end goals, quotas, and responsibilities. Our employees are doing the same amount of work during the month of December with fewer work days due to time off during the holidays.
2. Time – We all get 24 hours each day to accomplish everything on our “to-do” list. The holidays add to that list and eat more and more of our valuable 24 hours. We face an increased amount of commitments both at work and in our personal lives that also claim their share of our 24 hours.
3. Money – Is there ever enough? Employees are generally faced with the same amount of money, but with an increased need for holiday obligations.
4. People – The holidays bring people together, and they also keep people apart. There is stress both ways.
5. Loneliness – The flip side to people being a stressor is lack of people being a stressor. Many, many people experience loneliness during the holiday season. Loneliness from those far away, those that are deceased or recently passed, and those that we simply do not have time to connect with.
When our employees do not have a means to handle the stress load they are faced with it can affect their health, productivity, morale, and attendance – just to mention a few. Stress is a costly factor in the workplace, so as leaders we want our employees to have the best tools for handling stress successfully.
Be proactive. As a leader be aware of what your people may be going through. If you notice signs of stress take action. Be the leader that touches base with their employees to see how things are going. Take every opportunity to consider their needs. Be creative. Would a financial literacy program be a good benefit to offer employees as a resource for spending, saving, and money management? Are you able to offer some flex time so employees feel less pressure in handling that ever growing “to do” list? If you are offering bonuses could they be handed out prior to Christmas to help with stress related to money? If your company has an EAP program, be sure to remind them of that resource during this stressful time. It might be beneficial to sit down as a team and come up with a plan to keep your workplace and employees as stress free as possible this holiday season.
Always, not just at the holidays, leadership is critical in times of stress. Be a positive influence, create an environment of calm, and enjoy a productive and happy holiday season with your employees.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Leadership In Action!