Supporting Your Workforce During the Holidays: Prioritizing employee well-being for a healthy work environment through the new year and beyond

The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration, but it can also bring stress and anxiety for many employees. Here are some interesting stats by the American Heart Association:

  • The majority of Americans (51%) indicate that it takes them weeks to recover from the stress of the holidays.
  • 71% percent of respondents express that their main regret post-holidays is not dedicating enough time to relax and fully enjoy the season.
  • 63% of participants assert that the holiday season is more stressful than tax season.
  • 69% struggle to prioritize healthy eating, 64% find it difficult to maintain regular exercise, and 56% face challenges in getting enough sleep during the festive season.
  • 79% of those surveyed agree that, during the holidays, their focus on creating special moments for others often results in neglecting their own needs.

The numbers have spoken: your workforce needs extra support during this busy time of the year. To promote employee well-being, health system leaders must make a dedicated effort to support their staff in practical ways. Here are some effective strategies for encouraging work-life balance and overall wellness during the festive season and beyond:

1. Make time off a priority

Recognize that employees may feel overwhelmed as the year ends. The above survey by the American Heart Association has a common theme: people feel there’s not enough time to take care of themselves. Prevent this problem by communicating early about priorities and timelines for the upcoming year. This allows employees to plan their time off and enjoy quality moments with loved ones.

2. Foster mental health dialogue

The stress of the season impacts mental health. Employers play a crucial role in fostering open communication about well-being. According to the American Psychiatric Association, which polled adults about holiday stress, a majority of adults who experience stress (70%) said they are comfortable talking with others about their stress during this time — although only 41% said they actually do so. Have an outreach plan, acknowledge potential stressors, and transparently discuss the challenges. Remind them of available mental health benefits to create a supportive environment that reduces the stigma around seeking help.

3. Embrace diversity and inclusion

Holidays have different meanings for different people. Embrace diversity by acknowledging various customs and celebrations. Plan inclusive gatherings that reflect the cultural richness of your workforce. Avoid making celebrations mandatory, ensuring everyone feels a sense of belonging.

4. Rethink gift giving

Mandated gift exchanges can add unnecessary stress. Instead, focus on alternative ways to foster camaraderie, like workplace decorations, exchanging cards, or hosting small parties. This shift not only relieves pressure but also promotes a positive and inclusive atmosphere.

5. Encourage patient conversations

In the healthcare industry, trust plays a vital role in effective patient care. Facilitate meaningful connections between healthcare providers and patients by encouraging small talk. These interactions build trust, provide valuable health information, and enhance overall satisfaction. By understanding patients’ holiday plans and habits, healthcare providers gain insights into their well-being.

Furthermore, these conversations bring immense satisfaction to healthcare providers. Every interaction, whether it’s discussing vacation plans or favorite foods, forms a meaningful connection between providers and patients.

6. Foster personalized professional growth

Despite the challenges of staffing shortages, it is crucial to prioritize professional development for your employees. In the year ahead, acknowledge employees’ aspirations for professional growth and invest in training opportunities that align with the evolving needs of the modern workforce. Learning is never a one-size-fits-all experience, so be sure your learning investment can adapt to the personalized needs of your staff.

Demonstrating commitment to the growth of your employees shows that your organization is dedicated to supporting long-term goals. Whether employees are upskilling, trying a new path, or brushing up on critical knowledge, the whole organization benefits.

By implementing these strategies, employers can prioritize employee well-being, fostering a positive workplace culture throughout the year, not just during the holidays.

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