How HR Can Help Employees Retain Focus During the Holidays

by Lori Kleiman 

Here we are in November, and the work is piling up in every department. Organizations typically need to complete their year-end closing activities, count inventory, finalize those last few deals, and complete other goals. Employees are doing their best to make deadlines, but they may also be getting invitations to endless holiday events, making travel plans, and shopping for gifts. So how does HR help employees retain focus during the holidays and keep morale boosted?

As the holidays approach, here are 8 tips on how #HR can boost morale and help employees retain focus through year’s end. #humanresources

While HR often adds to the end-of-year workload with open enrollment, preparing year-end performance reviews, and ensuring all payroll entries are made for the W2s, a more important role is in employee management and organization productivity. Let’s look at why this is an important role for HR and what the human resource department can do to keep things calm and rolling during the holidays.

Helping Employees Focus During the Holidays Reduces Stress and Results in Employee Retention

No time of the year is more VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) than the holidays. A survey conducted by and LifeWorks showed that 71% of employers say their employees need help managing their stress levels. As the holiday season is often a high-stress time for many, we can assume that percentage may rise at this time of year.

A similar study found that 52% of employees are actively looking for, or are open to, a new position. Employees who are satisfied with their job and feel respected and acknowledged are more likely to stay. Helping employees manage stress, especially during the holidays, isn’t just about being nice. It’s really about retention.

Retention of top talent is one of the major drivers in business today, and now’s the time to consider what you can do to acknowledge to your employees that you understand what they have going on.

Focus during the holiday - hr tip


8 Tips HR Can Use to Keep Employees Focused During the Holidays

Of course, HR is busy too during the holiday season! With your time also at a premium, how can you make an impact without losing sight of your own department’s needs and goals?

8 ways to help employees retain focus during the holidaysConsider these simple tips to make the holiday season a bit less stressful for all!

  1. Communicate with team members. Acknowledge that everyone has a ton to do. Work together, ask for help, and be respectful of others’ time.
  2. Clearly lay out deadlines. Make sure everyone knows what deadlines are non-negotiable and where there is some wiggle room.
  3. Remember the benefits. Not everyone is joyful at the holidays and the financial stress can be enormous. If you have services that will help your employees such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), remind them to how to access the vendor.
  4. Be respectful of all cultures. Not all your employees celebrate the same holidays and some may not celebrate at all. Be inclusive or use neutral terms such as “Happy Holidays” and/or “Happy New Year.”
  5. Embrace your wellness activities. Sure, you can have a holiday event, but consider serving fruits and veggies or other healthy fares. Unhealthy habits can increase stress levels. Promoting wellness activities during the holidays and throughout the year is a great way to keep employees on track.
  6. Allow scheduling flexibility.  An employee may need to pick up that one special gift by 5 pm, so would it be the end of the world if they came in an hour early or stayed late another day?  Or maybe their child is in a holiday event at school — imagine the goodwill if you figured out a way for them to do some projects at home that day and go to the program for their lunch break.
  7. Keep illness away. This time of year, germs are everywhere. Consider offering flu shots in the office and putting hand sanitizer at the copy machines and other shared equipment.  It’s a simple way to help employees feel at their peak, and keep them coming to work at your busiest time!
  8. Kick back with a social hour. Take a random 30-60 minute break and gather employees for fun. Play a game, watch a funny commercial on YouTube, or just kick back and remember you’re all in this together.


What About Helping HR Reduce Stress and Keep Focus During the Holidays?

It’s important for the HR team to also manage their stress during this busy season and stay focused. And I haven’t forgotten you!

One way to keep stress low is by reducing your workload. Having resources such as HR Hacks or access to our new HR Hacks private Facebook Group are great ways to take care of common HR tasks without reinventing the wheel. The Facebook Group is also a great forum to talk with, and share ideas with, other HR professionals who know what you are going through. What a stress relief that can be!

Retention of top talent and increased productivity with limited resources should be important for all organizations these days. Employees state time and time again how much they value communication and respect from their employer. Implementing even a few of these small but meaningful gestures is a great way to acknowledge that the holidays are stressful and to help your employees enjoy the season.


Originally published b on November 8, 2018  on


Strategic Management Search & Recruitment