There are lots of reasons for Christmas to make people happy; the seasonal ads as well as articles in the papers and magazines build an expectation of Christmas cheer. However, Christmas can be a stressful and unhappy time for many when mental health problems can escalate. Employers have a duty of care to ensure their actions in trying to celebrate Christmas don’t inadvertently add to the worries and stress of any individual.
Not everyone has family around them with whom they will be celebrating Christmas so a mandatory holiday may be their worst nightmare – particularly if they have been working from home, alone. Review your holiday policies to see how you can manage different requests for holidays or extra working hours over the festive season. This can complement hybrid working practices and colleagues who prefer to stay home with family/friends for a clean break.
Christmas parties are an extension of the workplace so be sure to make that clear to all members of staff when you organise and manage them. Social anxiety is a real issue and big events, mixing across teams, can be fabulous for many but fear-inducing for others. Perhaps an anonymous survey of preferences would uncover issues that people don’t want to raise verbally.
Money worries are one of the foremost issues behind mental health problems. Employers must be particularly mindful in 2022 of creating any expectation to spend. Even a Secret Santa of £5 or £10 might be too much for some this year so it might be time to knock Secret Santa on the head. Sorry, Santa! For employees who want to take part, you could encourage hand-made gifts or a team baking competition instead.
Alcohol has been a mainstay of Christmas celebrations, and office parties in years gone by. However, there are an increasing number of non-drinkers in society and some employees whose proximity to drinking and the feeling that drinking is being encouraged, will make them feel uncomfortable and dangerous for their physical and mental health. Employers should encourage alternative ways to celebrate and in moderation, particularly in the office.
Christmas isn’t for everyone – regardless of faith or belief. For many reasons, some people find Christmas a difficult and lonely time of year. Some people prefer to work through Christmas, rather than take time out. Some want to party and go wild! Talking to your people, and exhibiting kindness and consideration is the only way you can ensure that all needs are being taken care of and that your best resource, your people, are being nurtured.
2022 has been a tough year, as we all know, and Christmas is a real-time for reflection for many of us. It’s a good time to consider how well as an organisation you have performed in providing a safe and inclusive workplace environment, and whether you could have done more to nurture the well-being of everyone you employ. If you’d like to find out more about wellbeing and how you can take positive steps to be the employer that people want to work for, just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also have free guides on our website relating to creating a Holiday Policy, Sickness & Absence, and Wellbeing that you may find useful – download for free today!