It’s a new year, a new beginning. We’re feeling refreshed after a season of holiday cheer and celebrating with family and friends. Maybe some of us ate and drank a little too much. And maybe we spent our entire year-end bonus on presents that the kids are already tired of playing with. But we all feel rested and recharged after some much needed time off, and we’re anxious to get back to work. Right?
That may be true for a few, but returning to the work after the joys of Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, Festivus, and New Year’s Eve can be a real let down for many.
Holiday Stress and Anxiety
A recent survey conducted by Appreciation at Work found that a growing number of employees consider the holiday season more trouble than it’s worth. They cite increased traffic, expense, pressure to complete end-of-year work tasks, and holiday work events among the top reasons to dread the most wonderful time of the year.
Another survey, conducted by the American Psychological Association, found that 56% of respondents felt an increase in work-related stress during the holidays. Those surveyed blamed low salaries and lack of advancement opportunities as factors most likely to contribute to increasing stress levels.
However, despite the anxiety that many experience during the holiday season, the majority of employees do look forward to time away from work at the end of the year.
Facing the New Year
Returning to work after time off, whatever the season, is always tough. Days spent celebrating with friends and family are suddenly replaced with days of email, ringing phones, and an impossibly long to-do list. But time off during the holiday season seems to compound the problems. We enjoy being with loved ones, but the hustle and bustle of the season doesn’t leave much time to relax and recharge. Exercise often goes out the window. We eat too much, drink too much, and sleep too little. Instead of returning to work refreshed, we’re often more tired than before we left.
And all the excitement of the holidays is gone, leaving us with nothing but January and the dark, cold winter ahead.
But You Can Help Your Employees Get Back Into the Routine
Want to help your employees beat the post holiday blues?
- Allow your employees time to ease back into the routine. Hold off on big meetings or project kick-offs for the first few days of the new year, and give them time to catch up on emails, phone calls, and leftover loose ends.
- Provide something fun for employees to look forward to, like a team breakfast or lunch.
- Encourage new habits for the new year, such as regular stretching.
- Set new goals with your staff. Help them focus on opportunities in the year ahead, rather than just working to clear their email inboxes.
Now might be a good time to think about preparing for the next holiday season. Here’s a tip: Employers who don’t force holiday cheer and who give their staff the time needed to both complete work requirements and enjoy time away are typically rewarded with a happier, less stressed, more appreciative team.