Don’t Let Pre-Holiday Stress Derail Your Workplace Productivity

by Bob Curley on December 17, 2010

Most executives say that their workers are more productive during the holidays or at least as productive as usual. Still, it’s hard to deny that the holiday season can be stressful for many workers, so Mary Pender Greene, a New York City psychotherapist, relationship expert, and career coach, offers these tips for managers who want to keep their office running as smoothly as possible:

  • Be firm but understanding. Let employees know that you feel their pain, but that their work needs to be done. Demonstrate your empathy by giving them extra time to do holiday shopping during their lunch break.
  • Tell workers it is okay to ask for help if they are overwhelmed. By setting flexible parameters, managers can help employees control their emotions and stop them from taking their frustrations out on customers and colleagues.
  • Make schedules. If individuals know what they need to do and when they need to do it, their stress is often reduced. This can apply to work that has to get done and orders that need to be filled, as well as personal tasks.
  • Maximize team performance. Get in touch with your own work patterns first. For example, you may like to handle complaints in the morning and do emails in the afternoon. That is fine but understand if co-workers do things differently. Managers should appreciate workforce variances and work with them. Your positive attitude will empower your employees and increase their productivity.
  • Be diplomatic. Brush up on the best ways to give criticism. A business relationship that took years to build can be destroyed in seconds by overly harsh feedback. Remember that people’s emotions can be rough at this time of the year — even if they hide it well. Managers should be very careful when giving evaluations or responding to complaints.
  • Practice good communication. This should be done all year long, but especially now. Do you ask questions? Do you listen? That’s good. But if you order people around instead and ignore their suggestions then maybe it is time for you to rethink your approach.
  • Set daily goals to keep people focused. During the holidays it is all too easy for workers to worry about shopping, family relationships, travel and more. If managers keep people focused on daily tasks and goals, employees might be more attentive to their work.
  • Be realistic. Understand that some people will be unable to control their emotions and will bring their personal stress into the workplace. In that case, you need to have a plan. Consider consulting with a workplace relationship expert.