Tackling employee festive stress this Christmas

Young beautiful woman wearing santa claus hat at the table at home around christmas decoration suffering from headache desperate and stressed because pain and migraine.

Christmas can bring plenty of stress but this year, with rising costs and the financial impact of Covid-19 still lingering, the stress could be even greater.

Such strains have caused many to take drastic measures to have a good Christmas with Citizen’s Advice recently finding that more than two fifths of people are resorting to borrowing to help cover Christmas this year. Financial stress can have a great impact on employees’ wellbeing and engagement, leading to poor mental health and triggering issues such as anxiety and depression.

But there are plenty of ways that employers can  help. Employee benefits expert Sodexo Engage shares three ways employers can help stretch wages and cut Christmas costs and stresses:

It’s not all about the money

While everyone wants extra cash at Christmas, many businesses, especially due to the pandemic, may not be in the position to provide a bountiful end of year bonus. However, this doesn’t mean businesses can’t help staff cut costs.

The right rewards and benefits can make a huge difference to staff’s finances, without breaking the business’ budget. In fact, additional perks are well valued by staff and could be something to offer all year round. A survey by Glassdoor revealed that discounts are considered to be one of the top benefits and perks for employees – 17% value them more than a pay rise.

So, consider offering some perks that can bring real value to employees. eVouchers and gift cards can give employees access to retailers and other venues to treat themselves or loved ones. Alongside this, other schemes such as employee cashback cards, or online cashback, can help workers save costs on everyday items. When it comes to Christmas every little penny can help contribute to a merry celebration.

Think beyond gift-giving

Helping out with Christmas budgets isn’t just about helping staff check off their wishlists, but considering how to help them manage their money better and find new ways to save.

For example, offering budgeting tools that link to employees’ accounts can help them identify where their spending is going and can be genuinely beneficial to effective money management. Going a step further, companies can give employees access to finance calculators and cost comparison tools, so they can work out the best approach for managing their cashflow or identifying loan options for those larger purchases.

Another aspect to consider is commuting. The pandemic has shown that those who could work from home were able to save money, cutting down commuting costs and other day to day expenses, like a coffee on the way to work. So, if possible, consider offering employees more flexible working options that help keep those expenses down.

Consider offering commuting related benefits that can cut costs; from free staff parking, season ticket loans, and cycle to work schemes, to help employees get to work without breaking the bank.

The gift of time

From shopping for gifts, to visiting family, the Christmas period is often overflowing with commitments and tasks that need to be done before the big day. While it may not seem like the biggest or flashiest benefit, employees would appreciate an additional day to tackle their festive to-do lists.

Be it a single extra day outside of their paid time off, an early log off time so they can attend a school Christmas play, or greater flexibility when the kids are on school holidays, employees will appreciate this thoughtful gesture that can help reduce the Christmas stress. Additionally, with a bit more time on their hands, employees may want to tackle their stress by spreading some Christmas cheer with volunteering.

For workers, a reward could take the form of flexible working hours, a specific day for volunteering, a half-day off, or a Holiday Shopping Day that wouldn’t come out of their holiday entitlement.

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