Almost intuitively, some businesses shut down and send everyone home as the end of the year approaches. Those that do might actually open the New Year as happier, healthier places to work, simply because they avoided the workplace stress mess that typically occurs around the holidays.
Virgin Pulse has attempted to quantify the level of stress employees experience during the holiday season, and the results of Virgin's survey support sending the troops home for the holidays. Folks will still be stressed there, but at least they won't be bringing their anxiety to work, where it takes a toll in lost productivity and behavior detrimental to company morale.
If you can’t afford to send ’em home early, the wise manager might decide to find ways to let younger workers—read: millennials—spend less time on the job. The Virgin survey found younger workers reported much higher levels of stress than their elders, mainly because they were worried about getting ready for the holidays and couldn’t keep their heads in the business game as well as more experienced workers.
Overall, the responses from more than 1,000 survey participants found 70 percent of employees feel more stressed during the holidays than during the rest of the year. One in 10 of these respondents said their stress levels were between 60 percent and 100 percent higher than normal. And two-thirds of them said the stress proves to be distracting at work, enough so that the work that's being done may not measure up to the usual standards.
Other survey highlights included these responses to the question, “What adds to your stress level during the holidays?”
- In general, anxiety levels rise 30 percent during the holidays, at least among this survey group, and their quality of work drops by 30 percent, they said.
- Two-thirds of respondents said they spend up to 60 percent of their workday on “holiday prep work” rather than actual work.
- 65 percent blamed shopping for gifts and necessities for events for higher stress levels.
- 60 percent cited financial concerns brought on by holiday spending as a major stress contributor.
- 44 percent say crowds at the stores stress them out.
When asked how stress affected their daily routines during the holidays, the survey found:
- 62 percent said they didn't eat a healthy diet during the holidays, adding to the stress;
- 51 percent reported their regular exercise routine is disrupted;
- 46 percent said the stress causes them to lose sleep.
Youth is not well served by the holidays, Virgin found. The survey showed respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 said “they expect to be 45 percent more stressed this year than last.”
Those between 45 and 60 thought they'd be 30 percent more stressed than usual.
The younger age group was twice as likely as those between 45 and 60 years of age to report using up to 40 percent of their workday focused on holiday tasks rather than work tasks.