As temperatures drop and the holidays near, business owners may see increased holiday stress levels among employees as they balance an influx of holiday parties, family time and year-end deadlines at the office. However, while employers have little control over stressors outside of the office, having a plan in place to help manage the busy season can encourage team members to remain focused and productive at work. 

Erin Lau, manager of HR services with Insperity, offers the following tips for company leaders looking to provide employees with a seamless transition into the holiday season.

Offer schedule flexibility

Between balancing work deadlines and personal commitments, employees may have more on their plate during the holiday season. To support staff, managers can offer short breaks throughout the day to allow time for employees to accomplish personal tasks. Additionally, some companies may offer floating holidays, opportunities to work remote or even implement a shorter work week. If a flexible schedule is not possible due to client demands or year-end deadlines, consider providing time off during a quieter time of the year to allow employees the opportunity to relax and recharge.

Plan for increased PTO requests

As the end of the year is often a busy time, employers should anticipate and prepare for an increase in paid time off (PTO) requests. Company leaders should ensure their organization has clear guidelines for requesting time off and that all employees are aware of related policies. These should include directions and timelines for submitting PTO requests, as well as cover expectations related to accessibility and response times while away from the office.

Refocus deadlines

Keeping employees focused while competing with holiday distractions can be challenging. To ensure all tasks are completed on schedule, managers should consider meeting with staff to prioritize projects and set realistic deadlines. Setting shorter deadlines than usual can also help keep team members engaged and productive.

Keep celebration stress at bay

While holiday parties and seasonal activities can be a great way to encourage team building, these events can sometimes bring added stress. To avoid this, management may consider hosting a holiday lunch during business hours rather than scheduling an evening or weekend event. Additional team activities that keep requirements simple and inexpensive may include an office potluck, decorating the office as a group or participating in a community service activity during office hours.