For many people it's been a tough year to say the least. More than ever people are looking forward to 2020 ending and starting a new in 2021. It's understandable to want to forget and move on from the events of 2020, but let's do it safely. Figure 1 (below) outlines a few personal considerations going into the "Silly Season". Essentially, the Silly Season is about having a break from the pressures of work and spending quality time doing whatever it is that makes you happy. People will generally spend time with family, relax and go on holiday (if you're lucky enough anyway!). As people relax into the Silly Season, they may start to notice the numbers on the scales go up. The best way to maintain your weight is to continue to remain active and minimise binge eating and alcohol consumption- as always, moderation is key. You also don't want to return to work not having mentally and emotionally de-stressed and de-compressed. Prioritise some "you time"- easy to say, hard to do, I know. But it's important.
Your physical and mental wellbeing is important. Take advantage of the Silly Season to reduce both accumulated allostatic load (chronic mental stress) and physical stress from 2020. Chronic stress can have significant health implications, for example, lead to the development of diabetes, obesity, increase risk of heart attack and stroke, and can even contribute to the development or severity of musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis.
It's also important to address considerations for the office or worksite in the context of the Silly Season. In doing so, workplace stress can be alleviated (or at least reduced).
- Don't be a ba humbug! Try to embrace the festive nature of the season and make working fun! Whether you participate in Christmas or not, at least recognise that a break from work is coming up that people are looking forward to. Undoubtedly, the lack of focus which often occurs towards the end of each year can be frustrating for managers and business owners, however failing to 'embrace' the fun of the season will only exacerbate the situation. You may want to focus on elements of the period that you can authentically resonate with (e.g. the opportunity to connect more deeply with family) more closely
- Be tolerant of those who don't celebrate Christmas. Whilst it may be the case that the majority of your staff celebrate Christmas, be aware that not everyone does. If you have staff in your office who don't observe this celebration, be mindful of their beliefs and include them without making them feel 'pressured' to hold the same beliefs as others. This doesn't mean 'cancelling Christmas', it's just about being respectful and courteous.
- Get Flexible. Figure out ways to get the work done, but in a way that allows staff some flexibility to enjoy the various events they may have on. Perhaps you can change hours for some or all of your staff so that some staff start early and leave early and others do the late start and finish. Another great idea is to work an extra half hour Monday to Thursday, and then allow staff (where possible) to leave 2 or 3 hours early every Friday.
- Remind staff to be mindful of behaviour. This is in regard to end of year events or parties. For example, a comment or photo added to social media platform/s, which at the time may seem 'funny' after a night out, may have a detrimental impact on another staff member/s, or in fact your business as a whole. You want your staff to enjoy themselves in the company of their peers, but always remember that their conduct is a reflection of the values that the company works hard to maintain the rest of the year out.
- Set clear guidelines for what is acceptable and unacceptable in the workplace. If the guidelines are set and made clear to all employees, there can be no excuses, and no confusion as to what will and won't be tolerated in the workplace and at related functions.
- Tips to stay safe in the workplace. Employees who work in hospitality, transport, construction and retail industries often work long hours during the festive period thus more likely to experience fatigue and weariness. Fatigue and weariness can impair both physical and mental abilities which can lead to serious WHS implications.
Employers can do the following to mitigate these contributory factors to increased WHS risks around the festive period:
- Monitor break taking to ensure employees don't skip breaks to cover increased demand;
- Avoid designating repetitive tasks for long periods at a time;
- Set realistic timeframes and workloads: factoring in extra time, additional staff or resources as required to ensure the job is completed safely;
- If work falls behind, implement an appropriate management plan that does not increase workload or stress levels of workers;
- Remind employees to take the time needed for an adequate risk assessment of a task before commencing work;
- Re-articulate drug and alcohol policies to staff;
- Avoid trading at extended hours where possible; and
- Avoid quick, lax on boarding of Christmas casuals
Whatever it is you do this Silly Season, remain safe, and keep healthy and happy.