NEWS Stress high­est in Xmas sea­son

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS - RE­BECCA BAKER

CHRIST­MAS cheer aside, De­cem­ber is of­fi­cially the slack­est yet most stress­ful month of the year at work.

Work­skil Aus­tralia’s Liana Rein­hardt said the fes­tive sea­son can be an unusu­ally stress­ful time in the work­place.

“Work­loads can in­crease sig­nif­i­cantly as key cus­tomer or­ders or ur­gent re­quire­ments need to be fi­nalised be­fore the Christ­mas break (and) this can add sig­nif­i­cant ad­di­tional stress,” says the na­tional peo­ple man­ager of the not-for­profit em­ploy­ment ser­vice.

“This is also a time when many peo­ple are fac­ing ad­di­tional pres­sures in their per­sonal lives around Christ­mas plan­ning and end-of-school ac­tiv­i­ties.

“It can be very hard to leave these per­sonal life pres­sures at the work door and anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion are com­mon dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son.”

Last year’s State of Work­place Men­tal Health in Aus­tralia study found one in five Aus­tralians took time off work in the pre­vi­ous 12 months be- cause they felt men­tally un­well, and only 52 per cent of work­ers be­lieved their work­place was men­tally healthy.

Well­ness and re­silience ex­pert Gina Brooks said pro­duc­tiv­ity lev­els can drop by al­most 40 per cent in the weeks lead­ing up to Christ­mas.

“At the same time, work­ers re­port an in­crease in stress lev­els of 66 per cent,” she says.

Ms Brooks who works with busi­ness to boost per­for­mance be­lieves the key to im­prov­ing out­put in De­cem­ber is in­creas­ing work­place flex­i­bil­ity.

“If peo­ple are phys­i­cally and men­tally well at work, they will per­form at their best — (and are) 30 per cent more pro­duc­tive,” she says. Plan­ning is also im­por­tant. “The core thing is for the team to get to­gether from De­cem­ber 1 and plan — who is go­ing to be away; what events have (team mem­bers) got com­ing up; what are our pri­or­i­ties?” she says.

Ms Brooks sug­gests set­ting syn­chro­nised “block out times” dur­ing the day where the focus is on get­ting a pri­or­ity task fin­ished.

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