Reducing stress during the holiday season

December 12, 2016


At many companies, the festive holiday season is also a stressful one. The month of December is when year-end deadlines, holiday office parties and family obligations collide. The resulting anxiety can nearly take all the joy out of the season.

In 2015, we offered a few tips to help reduce workplace stress during the holidays. This year, we provide five additional ideas to help make sure all remains merry and bright for the next couple of weeks.

Look for Volunteer Opportunities

Organizing company-wide events to give back to the community can bring cheer and even excitement to an otherwise overwhelmed office. Volunteer opportunities not only help community members in need, but they also offer stressed employees a much-needed break. They can also build teamwork and morale.

Take Time to Appreciate Employee Achievements

Beyond company parties and Secret Santa activities, worker appreciation events can both lift spirits and decrease anxieties. The end of the calendar year is a good time to let employees know their hard work is recognized and appreciated. Recognition can take place in one-on-one meetings or in group settings. However, when recognizing achievements in front of several employees, be sure to recognize the efforts of all team members and not only a select few.

Use the Time to Plan Ahead

In some offices, the real stress begins in January, when company goals are announced and businesses attempt to kick off the calendar year on a positive note. If this is the case, managers should encourage staff to use some of their time in December to plan and prepare for the 12 months ahead.

Consider Launching New Anxiety-Reducing Efforts in December

There is perhaps no better time to launch new stress-reducing strategies than during one of the busiest periods of the year. For example, December may be an opportune time to announce new after-hours email guidelines, aimed at ensuring that employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. It is also important for managers to proactively review the vacation calendar and make sure work is distributed fairly and evenly amongst those who are not taking significant time off during the holidays.

Remind Employees That Help is Available

Many companies offer access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which is a value-added resource typically available through insurance providers at no additional cost to the employee. Workers often do not think to take advantage of these programs when their troubles stem from a combination of work and home stresses, which is often the case around the holidays. EAPs offer confidential counseling and referral services from trained professionals to assist employees with work or personal problems, including financial concerns, depression and substance abuse. 

Helping employees manage stress during the holidays can improve morale and productivity. It can also help companies retain top performers who appreciate it when their employer demonstrates an interest in their wellness and well-being.

Eric Bonugli is a district manager and Kay Oder is a Certified Business Performance Advisor for Insperity located in the company’s Austin office. Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 30 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance.

Topics: Human Resources

Kay Oder


Kay Oder has owned six companies, has been a resource to thousands to businesses and brought solutions to help business owners minimize risk, improve business performance and navigate today’s highly regulated and complex “business of being an employer”.

Today, Kay uses the insights gained throughout her career as a speaker, business owner and business advisor. Audiences enjoy her candid, informed perspective on HR related topics as well as her razor-sharp southern wit.

Kay is also a Certified Business Performance Advisor with Insperity, the $2.6 billion business performance solutions provider she has called home since 1993. Kay has consistently been among the company’s top producers during her 20 plus years with the organization, earning Insperity’s highest honors, including the Top Volume, Circle of Excellence and the Chairman’s Club awards.

Prior to Insperity, Kay was the President and Co-founder of Texas Valve Specialists, a supplier in the oil and gas industry. She has also owned companies in the construction, demolition, machining and promotional apparel arenas. She spent four years as a client of Insperity and upon selling her last venture, joined the Insperity team.

From an early age Kay demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit, beginning at age six when she sold cantaloupes from her parents’ front yard, which she offered three for fifty-cents, with a free puppy.

Kay and her husband, Dale, relocated to Austin from the Houston area in 1996 when a theft occurred in their family: their granddaughter was born and stole their hearts, so they had to follow.

Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 30 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. Insperity® Business Performance Advisors offer the most comprehensive suite of products and services available in the marketplace. Insperity delivers administrative relief, better benefits, reduced liabilities and a systematic way to improve productivity through its premier Workforce Optimization® solution. Additional company offerings include Human Capital Management, Payroll Services, Time and Attendance, Performance Management, Organizational Planning, Recruiting Services, Employment Screening, Financial Services, Expense Management, Retirement Services and Insurance Services. Insperity business performance solutions support more than 100,000 businesses with over 2 million employees. With 2016 revenues of $2.9 billion, Insperity operates in 61 offices throughout the United States. For more information, call 800-465-3800 or visit

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