NEWS Stress highest in Xmas season
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.