Author Profile Picture

Valentina Hynes


Chief Executive Officer

Read more about Valentina Hynes

Seven ways to protect mental health and morale during the festive season

The festive season is not all fun. For many, this time of the year can significantly impact mental health and motivation levels.

‘Tis the season to be jolly… burnt out.

The pressure to meet deadlines before the holidays, coupled with the anticipation of social gatherings, gift shopping, financial strain, family responsibilities, and, for some, a sense of isolation can result in heightened stress and feelings of loneliness. 

Employers and HR professionals play a pivotal role in recognising these challenges and providing the necessary support to ensure that employees feel valued and supported during this time.

A supportive workplace culture that acknowledges these challenges is essential. The expectation to participate in numerous social gatherings and events can be overwhelming for some individuals, and employers should not add to this strain (and indeed should try to mitigate it).

Here are seven ways employers can alleviate stress and bolster mental health during the tough winter months and festive season. 

1. Offer flexibility and mental health days

One of our clients noticed a significant dip in staff morale during the festive season. In response, they introduced flexible schedules and mental health days which significantly improved the situation, showing the impact of responsive employer strategies. Consider if this is something you can offer your employees.

2. Foster inclusivity 

The festive season’s emphasis on togetherness can sometimes heighten feelings of loneliness.

Employers can help by organising inclusive, low-pressure social events that ensure everyone feels part of the festivities, regardless of their personal situations. 

3. Create opportunities to talk and move

Maintaining employee wellbeing during this period is essential for both mental health and productivity. Open discussions about mental health are vital.

Initiatives like conversation cafes or wellness workshops, and (optional) physical activity challenges can foster a supportive community that lifts morale.

Coping strategies play a vital role in ensuring the sustained wellbeing of employees as they navigate the challenges of the New Year.

4. Send reminders about external support provisions 

Employers should also ensure that access to employee support programmes and resources is readily available. This can include providing information about mental health hotlines, counselling services, or employee assistance programmes.

If you have these provisions in place, don’t assume individuals will remember this when they are struggling. Remind your people of the help available during high-pressure periods, including the festive period.

In addition, offer seminars or workshops on stress management, coping with loneliness, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

These can equip employees with the tools they need to navigate the festive season effectively. 

5. Equip managers to bolster wellbeing in the New Year

It’s not just the festive season that requires extra attention. 

As we transition into the New Year, it’s crucial to focus on setting realistic and attainable wellbeing goals to support our mental health and overall motivation in the workplace.

For example, an achievable goal could be to incorporate mindfulness practices into daily work routines, such as taking short breaks for deep breathing exercises or meditation, or encouraging outdoor walks which can help alleviate stress and improve focus. 

Coping strategies play a vital role in ensuring the sustained wellbeing of employees as they navigate the challenges of the New Year.

The festive season and New Year are periods of change and reflection in the workplace.

Managers can help their teams reduce stress and burnout by encouraging a healthy work-life balance. Actions include:

  • Implementing time management techniques
  • Setting boundaries for work-related communications outside of office hours
  • Prioritising leisure activities
  • Encouraging employees to engage in regular self-assessment of their workload and responsibilities

All of the above, collectively, can help individuals effectively manage their expectations and avoid becoming overwhelmed, thus supporting their mental and emotional wellbeing. 

6. Leverage AI to alleviate workload and stress

Consider how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its integration in the workplace can streamline processes, boost efficiency and alleviate stress during demanding periods like the festive season. 

AI-driven project management tools can automate task allocation based on employees’ current workloads and skills, ensuring a balanced distribution of tasks. This not only enhances efficiency but also prevents employee burnout by avoiding overburdening.

Additionally, AI-enabled analytics can provide insights into workflow patterns, identifying bottlenecks and suggesting improvements. This leads to a more efficient work environment, where employees can accomplish tasks with reduced effort and time, enhancing overall job satisfaction.

7. Embrace simplicity with one-word goals

One-word goals can be a transformative approach to unify a team under a common theme, enhancing coherence and purpose in the workplace. This concept simplifies goal-setting, providing a clear and focused direction for both individuals and the organisation.

It serves as a daily reminder of the core focus, whether it’s ‘growth’, ‘balance’, ‘innovation’ or ‘sustainability’. 

For instance, at SVH Inc. CIC, the chosen one-word goal for 2023 was ‘Blooming’, exemplifying both the organisation’s and individual employees’ aspirations towards growth and resilience.

Reflecting on the year, the effectiveness of this approach is clear, as it has materialised in various aspects of the company’s progress, aligning efforts and fostering a shared sense of achievement. 

Prepare and protect this winter

The festive season and New Year are periods of change and reflection in the workplace.

By understanding the potential impact on employee wellbeing and implementing supportive strategies, employers can create a strong, vibrant, happy and incorporated environment during this time.

Interested in this topic? Read What HR needs to consider when organising work Christmas parties

Author Profile Picture
Valentina Hynes

Chief Executive Officer

Read more from Valentina Hynes

Get the latest from HRZone

Subscribe to expert insights on how to create a better workplace for both your business and its people.


Thank you.

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Subscribe to HRZone's newsletter