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Giving employees reason for cheer during the festive season

David Saul, managing director of leading serviced office operator Business Environment explains the importance of providing a healthy work-life balance

Christmas can be a busy and stressful time. Some of us will worry whether we’ve put the turkey on too soon or overcooked the vegetables. For others, the need to muster sufficient feigned delight upon opening a too small jumper from their second aunt will be the chief concern. Those of discerning taste, meanwhile, will be preoccupied with the worry that their relatives might not want to watch the Doctor Who Christmas special.

Unfortunately, on top of such seasonal concerns, some 73 per cent of people are worried that work will ruin their break, according to a new study by a UK health cash plan provider, Mediacash.

The study showed that more than a quarter of people are worried that they’ll need to work during the festive period, while over 23 per cent believe they’ll spend Christmas dwelling on the to-do list. On top of this, 41 per cent of those surveyed felt under pressure to take on more hours to cover the cost of Christmas.

The Mediacash CEO, Sue Weir, underlines the seriousness of the problem by quoting the UK’s workplace stress figures, stating that the issue affects “over 400,000 people in the UK every year, amounting to more than 10.4 million lost working days and costing UK businesses an average of £3.7 billion”.

That there’s a clear moral imperative to ensure employees aren’t plagued by work-related worries goes without saying, but the figures quoted highlight just how strong the business case is too.

When one considers that creating a less stressful working environment is the right thing for businesses to do in every sense, we should perhaps be surprised that the problem isn’t being tackled more effectively.

At Business Environment, we’ve worked hard to ensure staff enjoy a proper work-life balance and make clear that working round-the-clock is more likely to lead to feeling burned out than any increase in productivity.

Recognising that a stress-filled atmosphere is self-defeating, we also offer time off for birthdays, team days away and cakes every Friday.

We’re proud that this approach, coupled with proper recognition of the excellent work our employees do and regular appraisals that provide useful feedback and realistic targets, has led to us being named in the Sunday Times Best Small Companies to Work For list for the last five consecutive years.

There’s no doubt that juggling work demands with the busy Christmas period can prove stressful – the solution lies in creating a company culture that promotes a healthy work-life balance, and does so all year round.

David Saul David Saul is Managing Director of Business Environment