Watch for employee stress during the holiday season

In December, we are often busier than at other times of the year getting ready both at work and at home for the holidays. Managers are trying to deliver products and finish projects before the holiday break. Supervisors are planning and juggling vacation schedules. In addition to their work, employees are getting ready for visitors or arranging travel, buying gifts and squeezing in time to visit with friends.

iStock_000007828906_SmallStress can manifest itself in symptoms that managers need to be aware of, especially if an employee is driving for work as it means extra risk when he or she gets behind the wheel. They might not be sleeping as much and therefore are not as rested. They may have a thousand things on their minds and therefore are more distracted. Some may feel overwhelmed with holiday expectations and have difficulty concentrating. All of this can result in spikes of crashes, injuries and near misses.

Symptoms of stress
In addition to fatigue, insufficient sleep and difficulty concentrating, other symptoms to watch out for include headaches, short temper, upset stomach, aching muscles, loss of appetite, changed behaviour at work, low job satisfaction and morale, as well as lower productivity and a decline in work performance.

What you can do
Talk to your staff about the hazards of the holidays and share resources such as Public Health Canada’s Managing Holiday Stress. To address the particular risks of driving assignments at this time of year, review Road Safety at Work’s How to identify signs of fatigue and remind employees of the steps they can take to be ready for driving assignments. Be prepared to act if you observe someone who is not fit to undertake driving responsibilities.

From all of us at Road Safety at Work, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

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Watch for employee stress during the holiday season