It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Shopping centers sparkle with holiday decor. Grocery stores offer more tasty treats than carts can comfortably hold. Overtime hours and holiday bonuses hit paychecks. Everyone must be so happy!
Nope. Unfortunately, the holiday season doesn’t always hold the same excitement as it once did when you’re in the workforce. According to a report by Christopher Ingraham, the Google Misery Index (yes, that’s a thing) indicates that people report more bad days, anxiety, and general misery in the fall months. And let’s not even discuss the stress of a frequently swiped credit card.
Generations at Risk
Adding fuel to the fire, Generation Y and Generation Z have been told since childhood (when they received participation trophies which they didn’t ask to receive) that they’re entitled. But the notion that Millennials and the generations that follow them are showing up to work demanding large promotions and comfortable offices isn’t the reality. In fact, they struggle to leave the job even after-hours, often staying “plugged-in” to work-related media and e-mails with handheld devices.
According to Shelia McClear’s report in Ladders, Gen Z and Millennials struggle to take their earned vacations. In addition, even while on vacation, they stay connected to work in some capacity. Why? Because they feel guilty for taking the time earned.
It’s no wonder that when fall arrives, already-stressed employees, now thrown for a loop by the time change, fall prey to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). No one wants sad, fatigued employees!
Promoting Good Mental Health Habits
So how can we help our employees this holiday season?
- Encourage employees to take their time off, especially disconnected vacation time, to properly recharge their batteries.
- Invest in mental health. Be open to employee needs and accommodate whenever possible. Unseen ailments, like anxiety, can be more vicious than obvious physical issues at times.
- Provide leadership training in confidentiality as well as resources, such as those found here, to help those dealing with mental health issues.
- Consider creating a workout space to increase endorphins and bring in positive energy.
- Implement flex time. With shorter days, colder temperatures, seasonal disturbances, and busy holiday schedules, sometimes a little bit of flexibility in when and how employees can work can really decrease their overall stress levels.
If we want to retain new talent, we have to focus on helping them to succeed in our businesses. Looking at the bigger picture, a little flexibility and understanding can make all the difference for a company and its employees. These are not expensive or overly time-consuming initiatives, but they have huge benefits … for every generation of employees.