For many American workers, year-end stress is just the icing on the cake of an already stress-filled year. According to the World Health Organization, stress is estimated to cost American businesses up to $300 billion per year. In fact, a recent Work Stress Survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Everest College, found that more than eight in 10 employed Americans are stressed out about their jobs, citing top concerns of heavier workloads and poor pay. 

10 Tips for Nipping Year-End Stress in the Bud

For many American workers, year-end stress is just the icing on the cake of an already stress-filled year. According to the World Health Organization, stress is estimated to cost American businesses up to $300 billion per year. In fact, a recent Work Stress Survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Everest College, found that more than eight in 10 employed Americans are stressed out about their jobs, citing top concerns of heavier workloads and poor pay.

Given that employees are juggling an increased number of work and personal obligations, it’s no wonder that the holidays often compound these feelings of stress. The result for employers? A more absent and less productive workforce, especially during the end of the year.

“Year-end is always a busy time, especially for payroll professionals. Employers need to recognize the effects that stress and other work and life obligations can have on their employees and be proactive in mitigating the potentially harmful effects it can have on employee wellness and business productivity” says Jennifer Piliero, senior product manager for Ceridian LifeWorks.

According to the World Health Organization, stress is estimated to cost American businesses up to $300 billion per year. 

By stepping back and assessing your year-end strategy from both an employee’s and manager’s perspective, you can be better equipped to address stress and productivity issues in the workplace this holiday season.

What employees are thinking at year-end

According to Diane Burrus, a workplace flexibility and workload solutions practice leader at WFD Consulting, pressure to do more with less is taking its toll on employees. Putting in long hours with heavy workloads, coupled with financial pressures and family responsibilities can result in burnout, stress and health issues, especially during this time of year. Burrus states that because of the interconnectedness of our work and personal lives, such stress can have a paralyzing impact on effectiveness and productivity in the workplace.

Moreover, as year-end deadlines loom and companies are dealing with a skeleton workforce, it can be challenging for employees to get the right approvals they need from managers or other co-workers. Because of all this, employees may find themselves unable to work as efficiently and productively as they once did.

What managers are thinking at year-end

Managers often get caught in the middle when it comes to workplace stress. Not only do they have to deal with business pressures and motivating a beleaguered workforce, but they also feel their own pressures, says Burrus. Understanding how to be a better manager when everyone in the workplace is feeling extra stress can be a challenge.

Below are 10 tips to help managers lead a more distracted, more stressed and often slimmer workforce during the holiday season and all year long.

  1. Encourage proactive planning to minimize year-end stress
  2. Prioritize workplace projects to ensure timely completion of the most important tasks – be sure to clarify how individual work priorities are connected to larger business goals
  3. Leverage technology – what new or existing tools can make your processes faster, smoother and more efficient?
  4. Cut meetings that aren’t productive; don’t over invite; and closely follow the agenda
  5. Perform frequent audit checks year-round to help ensure accuracy and compliance – not to mention, help you avoid time-consuming payroll amendments and adjustments
  6. Seek out training opportunities year-round so employees are best prepared when it comes to finishing up year-end tasks
  7. Create a climate of respect and trust – foster and support work-life integration
  8. Support personal well-being – remind employees about various wellness and employee assistance program services available to them
  9. Provide opportunities for informal team socializing – adding fun and team building activities into the workday can help energize employees and contribute to overall team effectiveness and productivity
  10. Show employees your appreciation – a simple “thank you” can go a long ways

As you wind down 2013, think about how implementing a few of the above tips can help minimize the effects stress has on the workplace so that both employees and managers alike can head into 2014 feeling a little more recharged and little less rundown from the year-end mayhem.