3 Things Your Employees Really Want This Holiday Season


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Buying gifts, worrying about money to buy those gifts, spending time with family, not having time to spend with that family — even without added work pressure, your employees are already extra stressed during the holidays.

Virgin Pulse’s December 2014 survey of 1,000 participants, ‘Tis The Season For Stress, found 70 percent of employees have significantly raised stress levels during the holidays. Of those respondents, more than 10 percent said they feel an overwhelming 60 to 100 percent more stressed during this time of the year.

It turns out, the packed on stress during the holiday season isn’t just hurting your employees. In fact, Tis The Season For Stress reported 64 percent of employees say holiday-related stress causes them to be distracted at work, which in turn drives 30 percent more anxiety — diminishing their quality of work by the same amount. With so many employees feeling the effects of holiday stress, that’s a number employers can’t afford.

It’s time to leave the bottle of wine on the shelf and back away from the cinnamon scented candles. Your employees deserve long-term changes in the workplace that will help them de-stress and grow all year long. Here are three things your employees really want this holiday season:

1. Tools for success

Technology — especially outdated and slow-moving — can really layer on the holiday stress. When employees are trying to do their jobs well and get home to their families, inefficient technological resources can really throw a wrench into their plans.

Putting money into resources for your employees gives them the ability to perform at their highest level. However, the 2016 Workplace Index, a June study by Staples, found 89 percent of employees said they aren’t provided with the latest technology. Needing updated technology is a year-long issue, but during the pressure-filled holidays, it may end up decreasing employee retention.

Nobody understands what their jobs entail better than your employees — so why not let them tell you what they need to perform at their best? Each month, sit down with your team to discuss what’s working well and what needs updated. These meetings can be used as brainstorming sessions for co-workers to discuss how these improvements will be used to make them stronger or even help each other understand new technology as it comes in.

2. Benefits to stay healthy

Added stress increases both physical and mental health concerns. Employees who are out sick or are unable to focus due to high anxiety levels are unable to perform their regular duties, let alone go above and beyond to hit goals and expectations.

It is important to place a heightened focus on well-being during the holiday season, but companies should be offering wellness benefits year-round. The benefits for employers and employees alike are obvious in Limeade’s 2016 Well-Being And Engagement Report. Of the 1,276 employees surveyed, 91 percent with high well-being are less likely to leave a job than those with lower well-being.

Unfortunately, most companies are still missing the mark. A disappointing 24 percent of participants in Harvard Gazette’s February Workplace and Health poll said their company offers wellness/health programs. While some employees need well-being support all year, most would highly benefit from it during the holiday season.

Take time to listen to how employees are feeling. Keep an open door policy to let your team know their leaders are available to listen about any issues during any time of the day. Send out wellness surveys to see how they’re holding up and what they need from you to help them lower stress levels. Set up mandatory fifteen minute breaks throughout the day, create a technology-free break room, or even bring in a wellness coach to teach mindful breathing techniques.

3. Recognition of hard work

Most employers are aware of the hard work their employees put into the organization, but when was the last time you told them about it? Employees have a lot to do outside of work, especially during the holiday season, so when they continue going above and beyond their job descriptions, they should know it’s being acknowledged.

We’re all willing to work harder for leaders who give frequent positive feedback. That’s why implementing a recognition program is crucial for motivating employees to do their best. The holidays are a great time to start a fun season-themed program.

Since time off and money are hard to come by this time of year, offer half days or bonuses to those who are excelling in their positions. If your company can’t afford bonuses and days off, try an online peer-to-peer recognition platform where co-workers can post virtual motivation and positive feedback to those who have helped them or are rising above the call of duty.

December is a challenging month for employees. When leaders are able to empathize with that, they’ll be able to equip their team to put out their best work. After all the glitter, gifts, and winter wonderland charm has disappeared, employees will continue needing the benefits of an understanding and communicative workplace. Having healthy employees who have positive leaders and the tools to do their jobs well is the gift that will keep on giving.

What gifts do you give your employees during the holiday season? Let us know in the comments below!

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta, Managing Director of CareerShift, co-founded the company in 2005 to help individuals bridge the gap between education and employment.  As a recognized expert in the field, Val is a frequent speaker on career management, networking, and job hunting strategies.  You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.