Avoiding Christmas Burnout in the Workplace

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With Christmas just around the corner, life tends to start getting pretty hectic. For many industries, it’s like the world is going to end and everything needs to done, finalised and complete before we stop for the Christmas break. Customers want to get orders placed before you stop accepting to ensure delivery of products and services before Christmas. Everyone becomes focused on wrapping up whatever they have on their desk so they can break for Christmas, take some well-deserved leave and make a fresh start on their to do list in the new year.   Throw in the pressure of getting organised personally for Christmas; there is presents to buy, menus to plan, shop for and cook, holiday plans to finalise; the list goes on.

It’s no wonder the risk of employee burnout in the lead up to Christmas increases. Deadlines are looming, workloads are increasing, pressure is mounting, the streets and shopping centres are getting busier, patience wears thin – it’s the perfect recipe for stress and burnout in the workplace. Burnout affects everyone differently but common signs to keep an eye out for with your team members and colleagues include increased errors in work, anxiety, sleep deprived/tired all the time, disengagement, moodiness, being short with others, increased anger and frustration, becoming withdrawn.

Before your workplace becomes a ticking time bomb for employee burnout there are some simple steps you can take to help your team.

Increase communication

When we get busy the first thing to drop off is communication. We perceive we are too busy to fit in our usual catch up or team meetings. If you’re a manager, check in more frequently with your team to keep across their workloads and help them prioritise. Does that piece of work really need to be completed prior to Christmas? Do you need to stop taking orders to manage workloads effectively and be able to deliver on what you’ve committed to? Is it time to bring in extra resources? By communicating regularly with your team you’ll be able to answer these questions and help them better manage their stress levels. Increased communication will help the team to share the load so one or two team members don’t feel like they are the only ones carrying the load.

Increased flexibility equals improved productivity

Christmas is a particularly busy time of year and as we all try and cram those extra to do’s into our days sometimes the timing just doesn’t work. Although shopping centres are open all night, just the thought of tackling the crowds at the last minute can be overwhelming. If your workplace can manage it, try and think outside the square and be a little more flexible with working hours for your employees. An initiative I’ve offered my team is to take half a day off to help them get organised and do their Christmas Shopping. Offering this flexibility in late November or early December makes a huge difference to mind set and stress levels. They can get some of their shopping ticked off before it gets too chaotic and you’d be amazed at the head space it creates as they are not constantly worrying in the back of their mind about when they are going to get their personal to do list done. If you’re not prepared to simply give your employees time off in recognition of their efforts, negotiate with them to make the hours up at another time. Maybe they’d be happy to come in on a Saturday or work back an hour each night for a week. At least they won’t be battling the shopping crowds at midnight and stressed about the looming deadline of Christmas. By changing their hours they’ll probably power through their work because there will be less interruptions and their mind will be clearer.

Don’t stop doing the basics

When we get really busy it’s easy for the little things to drop off. We tell ourselves we don’t have time to take a lunch break, we don’t have time to go to the gym tonight. We don’t have time for down time so we increase our hours of work and then that becomes the norm. We increase the hours we work from home and don’t switch off or have any down time. While you might think doing one or all of these little things will allow you to power through your to do list, you’ll be increasing your chances of burnout, you’ll be less productive and end up more stressed. You still need to have down time. It’s important to ensure your team don’t stop doing the basics.

At the end of the day, we have to remind ourselves that the world isn’t going to end just because we don’t empty our in tray before Christmas. That task will still be there waiting to be completed when we return from the festive season break. More often than not we are our own worst enemies in putting ourselves under pressure to get things done in the lead up to Christmas. Remember to breathe, ask for help, communicate with those around you in the workplace and enjoy the festive season instead of stressing about it.

Angela Connor is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. She understands the significance of having the right team of people in a business and is passionate about helping business to attract, recruit and engage the right people so those people can inject their talents into the business; creating an environment where they can do great work and love what they do. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Angela on LinkedIn.

Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.

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