During the winter months, most practices are pushing through the holidays to complete tasks, meet deadlines, and serve a busy stream of patients. However, life outside the office is a swirl of activities, holiday to-do lists, and employees’ time off the clock hours are full! Unfortunately, this shift in the holidays also can bring on the holiday blues, which is defined as temporary anxiety or depression around the holidays. The se seasonal issues can affect many people and cause much upheaval in their professional and personal lives. As an employer, you need to be aware of this in your employees and educate yourself in ways to help prevent and beat the holiday blues.
Causes of the Holiday Blues
Many factors contribute to Holiday blues, but understanding the main contributors will allow you to combat it more effectively. If you know your employees well, some symptoms might be obvious, while others are more subtle.
The holidays can be a reminder of lost loved ones; missing that individual casts a negative haze over a seemingly happy time. Loneliness caused by a lack of friends and family is amplified during the holidays. Both of these issues are most especially common in elderly individuals.
Another contributor is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which should be treated seriously. SAD is a form of depression that primarily affects people during the fall and winter months when there is less daylight. More than just feeling blue or lacking energy on cold winter days, SAD involves persistent, pervasive symptoms of depression.
Unfortunately, the holidays are in the middle of the cold and flu season. If a person has been dealing with sickness personally or in their family, it can result in doctor visits and missing; A financial strain which can put a damper on holiday fun. Knowing these things can help you identify when an employee is struggling and needs support
How Holiday Blues Affect the Workplace
While Holiday blues affect personal lives, it bleeds over into the workplace in several ways.
Decrease in productivity: According to RedBooth, Winter is the least productive season. The smallest percentage of tasks are completed from November – January. This is a major issue when you have the same number of tasks to complete with much less motivation to complete them.
Absenteeism: Whether illness or SAD, absenteeism spikes when employees have the holiday blues. Absent employees can leave you in a tight spot, especially if you are already short-staffed and don’t have multiple backups. For more assistance with absenteeism, check out our blog, “What to do When the Receptionist Calls in Sick.”
Work quality: A distracted employee is a dangerous thing for medical professionals. When the quality of work drops, it can range from not collecting the correct insurance information to transcribing a prescription wrong! Poor work quality results in significant errors, loss of patients, and practice reputation damage.
Ways to improve Employee Morale and Beat the Holiday Blues
While trying to beat the holiday blues ultimately falls on the individual, as an employer, you can do several things to help.
Encourage wellness breaks: Wellness looks different for everyone but taking a break from the screen and going on a walk for fresh air helps boost endorphins and clear the mind. Map out a safe 10 min walking route near your office and encourage employees to use it while on the clock. If you notice an employee who doesn’t take a lunch break, encourage them to take that break. Many states require it by law, but if its a busy day employees they often skip breaks to try to get caught up on charting or admissions.
Allow Schedule Flexibility: With so much happening around the holidays, consider offering more flexibility in scheduling. Parents hate missing Christmas recitals and school plays. Allowing them to make up hours later or even work from home puts some control in their hands, relieving stress. Flexibility is beneficial when employees are sick or have to care for someone who is. Instead of missing a full, 8-hour day they can work from home and get at least several hours of work in. It will keep you on track and prevent them from experiencing financial strain.
Schedule workplace holiday events during work hours: Employees who are lonely often look to their coworkers for friendships, conversations, and celebrations. Having a holiday party can be the thing that brightens up a lonely employee’s week. However, workplace holiday events outside regular work hours can place additional stress on an already busy schedule. Allow employees to devote their off-work time to their holiday responsibilities and activities.
Outsource additional support: Even after taking precautionary steps to fight off the holiday blues, unexpected absences, sicknesses, and lower productivity can still persist. Make sure you are still available for your customers! Hiring an answering service could be the solution you are looking for. Answering services can do more than answer calls; they can follow up on inquiries, convert leads, run dispatch, schedule appointments, and much more. Learn how MedCall Plus can partner with you to keep things running smoothly.
Be proactive in battling the holiday blues by having open discussions with your team and being aware of the signs. Creating an environment where your employees feel cared for carries over to happier patients.