Handling the Workplace Holiday Rush

By Laura Hamill

Nov. 15, 2018

For some businesses beyond retail, the holiday season — November through February — is the busy season.

holiday rush

This means heavy workloads, tight deadlines and the need for collaborative teamwork more than ever as many companies are winding down. Research from my company’s research arm, the Limeade Institute, shows that burnout happens when employees have high stress but low well-being. So we’ve come together as a company to keep our people balanced, productive and healthy during this time.

Here’s what we found works best:

Reorganize annual events to alleviate employees’ schedules: Like most companies, we launched annual employee reviews at year-end. Now we’ve moved our annual reviews to February, so employees can approach them thoughtfully and reflect on all they’ve accomplished. We also pushed our holiday party to  midyear so our employees can spend their time with family and friends. And while most companies send customers holiday gifts in December, we send gratitude gifts just before Thanksgiving.

Push for real PTO: We encourage employees to use their vacation time by year-end. In fact, our research shows those who take all of their vacation days are more engaged. Some employees prefer to take a long break just after the busy season. Because of this, we roll over up to 160 hours of PTO per year.

Support employee well-being: Throughout the busy season, we developed a Refresh Yourself campaign that promotes employee well-being — something often neglected when the pressure is on. We’ve offered chair massages, fruit-infused water, smoothies, yoga and meditation sessions, stretching stations, brain games and had the leadership team cook breakfast for employees. An optional office decorating contest and ugly sweater competition brings spirit to the office. In the meantime, remote employees receive care packages so they feel included and supported.

Help employees manage stress: Stress is inevitable during the busy season, so we help employees feel energized and motivated versus run-down or overwhelmed. We coach managers on how to help their team deal with stress and bring in guest speakers on how to stay positive in stressful times.

Our advice to those whose holiday rush ramps up during the holidays? Test new ideas, measure success and improve every year.

— Laura Hamill is chief people officer at Limeade and chief science officer of the Limeade Institute.

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