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Supporting your people during the festive season

As we head towards the end of the year, many people are looking forward to what for many of us is an enjoyable festive and summer season.  However, this time of the year is not so positive for everyone.  Loneliness, financial pressures, challenging family situations and much more can bring pressure and stress to many of your people.

Further, for many people being at work in a positive and inclusive environment positively contributes to their wellness.  Work can be a valuable source of social connection, distraction, healing and even refuge.  So, there can be an even bigger impact on our team members when our workplaces empty out for a few weeks.

I’m a champion of leaders having opening wellbeing conversations with their team members all year round!  But as we head into the festive season, I really encourage you to speak to your people to ensure they’re looking after themselves at this time of year, and to understand how you can support them.

From my experiences in recent years of leading wellbeing in organisations and now consulting across a range of organisations, I’ve set out below some suggestions for supporting your people’s wellbeing at this time of year.

1. Encourage your people to build a wellbeing plan

Whilst I believe that people should have wellbeing plans all year, it’s particularly important to work with your team members to build a wellbeing plan to support them over the summer break.  Your one-on-one catch up in December is a great time to discuss this.

Action: Suggest to your team that they think about when they will be most lonely and vulnerable.  Encourage them to prepare for this ahead of time. For example, maybe they can pre-arrange catch ups with friends, plan activities they enjoy or think about a person that they can contact on short notice if they need someone to talk to.

2. Ensure your team members know where to get external support

Many organisations have internal resources available throughout the year to assist with wellbeing. But when things like your company intranet site, employee assistance program, and internal support networks are out of sight, or reach, over the holiday period, it’s important to ensure your people still have access to this vital information.  

Action: If your team members don’t have a work device that they can access whilst on leave, plan for this in advance by encouraging them to take down key phone numbers, websites and information – ensuring it’s readily available if they need it.

3. Consider extending existing connections over the break

Many people have friendships with their colleagues that go beyond the workplace.  Further, some organisations have buddy systems (usually another member of the same team) where two people chat regularly throughout the year to check in on each other’s wellbeing.  Work connections like these could carry over through the holidays if both people want them too.

Action: Chat to your people individually (or if appropriate you could raise it in a team meeting) to see if they are keen for these support networks to continue over the break.

4. Keep people connected if your workplace remains open

Not all workplaces shut down completely over the summer break, especially if it’s their peak period or they’re supplying an essential service. Keep in mind that working at this time of year can bring its own stress and strain, particularly when people are missing key events with family and friends.  If your team members are at work (including smaller “skeleton teams”), encourage them to keep wellbeing check-ins going, even in an informal way.

Action: If you are at work, keep an eye out for others and check in on them as appropriate.  You could also arrange small activities or get-togethers to keep people connected and spirits high, ensuring you do a scoop around the workplace to include everyone.

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