Traditionally it was just the summer when we had a silly season for stories in the media.

Now, no run-up to Christmas would be complete without the wall-to-wall stories about the impact of the festive season on everything from productivity to absenteeism with office relationships, stress and diet all thrown into the mix for good measure.

Of course, much of the research which fuels the stories has to be taken with a pinch of salt. And deep down, some might feel a little uneasy about the extent to which some piggy back serious workplace issues like alcohol abuse to promote their brands.

But I don’t think this festive frenzy around people and performance is all bad.

The first reason for saying that is because at the heart of pretty much every story you read is an important reminder that at this time of year nearly everyone faces an unusual set of pressures and distractions at work and in their personal lives which can throw them off their pace. It’s not that as organisations and managers we need to cut people more slack but simply that we need to be vigilant and ready to talk to our people if there are signs that something is awry.

The second reason why I think these Christmas stories about the workplace help us out is because it brings to the surface important issues which many employers and employees face all year around but simply don’t necessarily get much attention.

If your office is anything like mine, then what people read online, in their morning copy of the Metro or hear on their drive back home from work provides the fuel for workplace chat and watercooler conversations. So these stories help get conversations going around important issues like stress, work-life balance and health – that has to be a good thing.

The last reason why these stories help is because they remind us that,when it comes to wellbeing, prevention is often better than any cure. Few organisations big and small wouldn’t benefit from thinking through what they can do to support employees at this hectic time of year personally and professionally and these stories provide a great call to action for us all.

Andy Philpott is sales and marketing director at Edenred

www.edenred.co.uk

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