It’s no secret that the ongoing cost-of-living crisis is hitting everyone hard in the pocket. But, with the festive season upon us, it could become even more expensive for many.
It’s believed that the average UK household spends an extra £500 at Christmas. With a recession biting and bills climbing, a great deal of people could find the additional spend much harder to manage than usual.
In fact, the stress of financial uncertainty has been identified as a key contributor to the recent jump in burnout across the workforce. And, since our recent recession report highlighted improving health and wellbeing programmes as one of the top HR priorities for 2023, it’s prime time for HR to focus in on staff wellbeing.
So, if you want your team to come back feeling their best in the new year, here are a few ways you can help…
Focus on resilience
With uncertain times ahead, employees will no doubt be facing challenges – both personally and professionally. Placing an emphasis on building resilience, then, can help people to better overcome challenges in both their professional and personal lives.
Of course, resilience levels within an organisation will differ – whether on account of personality type, life experience, or any number of other factors. But, by identifying individuals already managing stress well, you may find the opportunity to encourage peer-to-peer support or ‘buddy’ systems that could help those struggling.
In addition, fostering an ongoing culture of reward and recognition is central to upholding employee motivation and staving off staff burnout – particularly through tougher periods. If you haven’t already, exploring options to reward and motivate employees in meaningful (and inclusive) ways could have a noticeable impact on your workforce’s wellbeing – and drastically reduce turnover rates, too!
For a more formal approach, the CIPD offers in-depth guides to supporting employee resilience – both for HR professionals and line managers. Getting up to speed on the theory, and leading by informed example, can be an effective way to ingrain resilience into your company culture long-term.
Taking a break
For most, taking regular breaks from work is crucial to maintaining wellbeing. And, as the hustle and bustle of the holiday season begins to set in, HR should be prepared to support staff in taking a well-deserved step back where appropriate.
There will always be some who want to power on through the break, for a variety of reasons – whether they don’t celebrate Christmas, or simply find work preferrable to holiday-season stress – but for those who do need a break, HR needs to encourage the business to do everything it can to accommodate leave requests.
It may also be worthwhile to explore flexible working options in your business over the holiday period. Whether it’s earlier starting and finishing hours so working parents can watch the school nativity, or just freeing up time to work through a seasonal ‘to-do’ list, encouraging work-life balance when it matters most can be an effective way to ward off burnout ahead of the new year.
Many employees will find it far easier to rest and reset over the holidays if their tasks are finished, new year’s goals are in place, and they know they won’t be hit with an avalanche of work the moment they return come January.
When it comes to preparing for the year ahead, HR can help by:
- Asking employees what they need – whether that’s more time to focus on key tasks, support with ongoing concerns, or resources to help meet deadlines.
- Ensuring performance reviews are carried out in full, and that employees and their line managers are on the same page heading into the new year.
- Encouraging employees to think about their professional, personal, and training and development goals for 2023.
Despite COVID-19 regulations falling out of play for the first time in two years, the cost-of-living crisis amid a deepening recession means it’s likely to be another difficult holiday period for many.
If your organisation has a good HR system, a designated workspace could be a set up to signpost useful mental health support. Sites such as Mind, Time to Change, and even the NHS offer valuable resources that employees can access independently throughout the holidays should they need it.
Your workforce may also just appreciate some ideas of things they can do while ‘holidaying’ at home. Parents with young children may be on the lookout for family friendly seasonal activities, and staff living on their own might enjoy a list of ways to stay social from their living room – so consider setting up a workspace to share the festive fun!