Jennifer S. Kiesewetter, Esq.

4 Ways to Create a Healthy Workplace for the Holidays

With the holidays fast approaching, many employees are already feeling the festive stress building. It’s important for employers to create a healthy workplace for the holidays while maintaining a happy and productive company.

It’s no surprise that stress levels increase during the holidays. Between work deadlines, shopping and family events, ’tis the season to be stressed. In a recent poll by Healthline, over 60 percent of employees reported holiday stress. The main sources of stress reported were finances, healthy eating, exercise, choosing the right gift and tight schedules.

What can an employer do to help minimize stressors and create a healthy workplace for the holidays? Here are four ways to help employees manage holiday stress:

1. Offer Healthier Food Options

If you have an office meal — such as a potluck — change it to a healthy food cook-off, suggests The Lawson Group. Food doesn’t have to be unhealthy during the holidays. Also, clients and customers often send food gifts containing sweets and other tasty, but unhealthy, foods. The Lawson Group suggests dividing some of this food up and having employees take it home, or freezing it and dispersing it throughout the year.

For those mid-afternoon hunger pains, I offer my employees healthy snacks and drinks, such as fruit, granola and flavored waters. It’s easy to grab a soda and chocolate, but reaching for something healthy can increase energy and encourage a healthy work environment.

2. Give to a Charity

Take the pressure off of your employees when it comes to purchasing employee gifts. This year, my team has decided to donate to a charity instead of giving office gifts. This not only reduces the stress of purchasing gifts but it also reduces financial stress. Plus, your team will feel good about donating to a good cause.

3. Encourage Time Off

Encourage your employees to take time off. I have instituted a half-day off the second week of December for shopping, errands or simply to rest during the busy season. As ClearRock reports, taking time off will allow employees to “come back in a better frame of mind and be more productive.”

4. Institute a Wellness Plan

Consider instituting a wellness plan if you don’t have one or breathing some life into the one you do have. Many companies focus on a wellness challenge after the holidays — losing weight for example. But, you may want to implement an overall physical challenge during the holidays, as noted by Corporate Wellness Magazine. Challenging your employees to get enough sleep, drink enough water and get a physical exam can help them focus on general health issues during a hectic time of year.

Helping employees manage stress during the holiday months allows employers to not only create a healthy and productive workplace but also to demonstrate care and interest in their employees. This interest should extend beyond the holidays as well. A healthy workplace will provide not only a healthier bottom line but also more dedicated, loyal employees.

Jennifer Kiesewetter is a seasoned attorney in the field of employee benefits, encompassing qualified and nonqualified employee benefit plans, welfare benefit plans, and executive compensation plans. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Employee Benefits and Insurance Law at University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law as well as an Adjunct Professor at Christian Brothers University, where she teaches Bargaining & Negotiations and Human & Legal Aspects of Health Care Management in the MBA Program.