The holiday season is upon us, and many of us have been relishing the traditional cheer, treats, gifts and parties that accompany this time of year. It’s likely we’ve been reflecting on, and giving thanks for the joy in our lives, our family, friends and loved ones; or maybe we’ve been getting into the holiday spirit by donating to or helping out at our favorite philanthropic organizations. These are effective trustworthy leader practices to embrace during the holidays, and practices that, realistically, we should attempt to embrace year-round! For me, a specific practice comes to mind that we should give some serious extra “oomph” to during the holidays – mindfulness.
While practicing increased mindfulness during the holidays can be helpful for everyone, it’s an especially great practice for business and HR leaders. With so much focus on holiday celebrations and cheer, it can be easy to miss that for some of our colleagues the holidays prove to be the most stressful or difficult time of year. According to statistics from a poll by the American Psychological Association, 69% of people feel increased stress during the holidays from a perceived lack of time, 69% feel increased stress from a perceived lack of money, and 51% of respondents also experienced stress during the holidays from the perceived pressure to buy and give gifts. While financial worry seems an obvious stressor during the holidays, there are other stresses that the holiday season can amplify, such as feelings of loneliness or sadness (especially for those who may not have a strong support system or close-knit family). And during a time of year when we celebrate family and loved ones, it can be particularly difficult for those who have experienced loss.
Keeping this in mind, aim for increased mindfulness and awareness in your workplace this holiday season. Consider checking in with employees more frequently, whether it’s with a phone call, email, or an in-person visit. As we all know, sometimes something as simple as asking “how are you doing?” can brighten a day. Also consider making sure lines of communication are extra clear. It’s important to remember that no matter how someone may appear, we can never assume what is going on in their life. If you’re willing to help or have tools and resources and available for employees in need, make this known. Reminding employees that their Employee Assistance Programs are easily accessible could encourage those who need support to seek it out. Asking for assistance can be difficult or feel shameful, and knowing that someone is willing to help could mean the difference between obtaining assistance, and suffering in silence.
Though “tis the season,” we’re not necessarily exempt from stress, and the holidays may even be amplifying worry. Perhaps it’s feeling a little anxiety about what the final year-end financial results will look like, or that the 2014 budget isn’t as perfect as we’d like, maybe it’s serious financial stress, or maybe there’s no stress at all. Whatever the case may be, work to be the true trustworthy leader who brings an increased mindfulness to your colleagues, your friends and family, and those around you this holiday season.