The holiday season at the end of each year is easily the busiest time for many businesses. The sharp increase in the number of shoppers is always a welcome sign for any business, especially after spending a huge chunk of their resources on colorful holiday marketing campaigns.
However, what is supposed to be a fun and money-making season for your business can just as easily get messy for your employees, leading to one of the biggest productivity-killers in the workplace: burnout.
Simply put, burnout is the natural, often multidimensional response we have to chronic stressors at work. It often shows when an employee becomes chronically exhausted and cynical toward their job, making them inefficient within the organization.
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For businesses, burnout is a huge deal. In the US, work-related stress costs employers in excess of $300 billion annually, not to mention the huge hit to customer service that comes about when burned-out employees are unable to promote good customer service.
With higher customer traffic and a bigger workload than any other time during the year, the holiday season can be a dangerous breeding ground for burnout. Here are a few simple ways you can prevent burnout within your organization during the festive season.
Rethink the average 9-to-5 workday
The holiday season means different things to different people. Some want time out to visit family members who live out of town while others may want an extra day or a few hours off to attend an end-of-year school party with their kids. Most of these requests won’t usually fall on a weekend, which challenges the typical 9-to-5 workday schedule.
Employees in such situations will often have to take time off from their vacation days, reinforcing rigidity and inflexibility around the workplace, which makes them feel less valued at work.
Adopting BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies and putting your business on the cloud can go a long way in promoting flexibility around the workplace. A 2014 FlexJobs survey even showed that 20% of potential employees will take a 10% pay cut in exchange for flexible workdays.
Allow employees to work from home and even take a few hours for personal engagements during the day without using their vacation days. Let employees set their own hours to help them become more productive, especially during the busy holiday season.
Encourage side projects
Monotony is one of the fastest ways to a burnout around the workplace. Doing the same thing over and over every day can reduce productivity for even the most talented employee, which may have disastrous effects during the holidays when the workload quadruples.
Allowing your employees to engage in a side project is one of the best ways to break the monotony and prevent burnout. Side projects can be either work-related or otherwise, as long as it takes them off the regular workflow. In addition to improving employee satisfaction, side projects also help to spur creativity within the office, which can benefit the company as a whole.
Promote distraction-free off days and breaks
The inability to disconnect is one of the most notable downsides to flexible work environments. Many of us often find ourselves answering emails or receiving work-related calls and texts on vacations or during off-days, habits that can promote burnout down the road.
And while disconnecting may sound counterintuitive for the connected workplace, encouraging employees to unplug on their free time is important when trying to keep them from working unnecessarily.
A good example of a company that promotes distraction-free holidays is Bandwidth. The company, which is ironically a telecoms company, doesn’t allow other staff members to call, send emails, or reach out in any way to an employee who is on vacation in what the company calls a “vacation embargo”.
Lastly, it’s always important to recognize that employees are humans first before anything else. Employees who aren’t capable of socializing with fellow staff members will have a difficult time interacting with customers and will be more likely to experience burnout.
A few moments each day dedicated to socialization can do a world of good for employee satisfaction and engagement. Allow employees to mingle during lunch, coffee breaks, and after work. Celebrate birthdays, hold company-wide challenges and other activities to encourage team-building, preferably throughout the year.
Happy, satisfied, and engaged employees are better placed to see your company through the long holiday season without getting burned out.