- Increased workload: A number of factors can cause an increase in workloads during December/January, including:
- a simple increase in demand for certain products and services before or after Christmas;
- a rise in sickness absence levels putting pressure on those staff who remain at work – common reasons for absence during and after the festive season include colds and flu, the winter vomiting bug (‘Norovirus’) and simply overdoing it during festive celebrations);
- reduced productivity both before Christmas (as some employees struggle to remain focused during the festive period with no comparable drop in workloads) and after the New Year (as many battle the post-Christmas blues and find it difficult to get back into the swing of things).
- Increased stress: Unfortunately, Christmas tends to highlight existing concerns about money, family frictions and other problems at home so some staff members may find it hard to cope due to home-life stress intruding on work time. To add to this, many workplaces may be feeling the pinch and staff may be low in motivation or anxious about the future, particularly once the festivities are over. Positive and productive employees are vital for organisational success so what can be done to support staff?
- Difficult weather conditions: Inclement weather conditions (generally snow and ice at this time of year although storms and flooding have been much more problematic over the recent months) are responsible for increased absenteeism when staff feel conditions are too treacherous to come to work. Or, occasionally, some employees may take advantage of bad weather conditions and take time off when not strictly necessary. Either way, there is a knock-on effect for the rest of the team who do make it in. Employers/managers need to be clear about when it is acceptable to expect staff to brave difficult weather conditions to get to work and should have a clear adverse weather policy in place to help staff commute safely.
For guidance on any health issues affecting your ability to work, or the ability of your organisation/team to remain production, call the Fit for Work advice line on 0800 032 6235 and speak to one of our professional occupational health advisors or access the free online resources.