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December 11, 2023 | Blog

The 12 Emotions of Christmas: A Guide for HR Professionals

By Zach Schmit, PN1-NC, NASM-CPT

A lady giving presentation in a meeting

The holiday season, especially Christmas, is often portrayed as a time of joy and celebration. However, for many there are other emotions that come with the holidays. Everything is good in moderation, even the Hallmark Channel.  

Understanding these emotions is crucial for HR professionals who strive to maintain a supportive and empathetic workplace. How can you support everyone this time of year? Here we discuss the 12 Emotions of Christmas, and leave out the partridge in a pear tree while offering practical advice for our friends in HR. 

1. Joy

The festive season often brings a sense of joy and happiness. Sometimes this can be a distraction for other employees who maybe aren’t a scrooge, yet they don’t get into it as much as some. 

HR Tip: Encourage group activities, outings and games like secret santa. Those are great team building activities that build camaraderie. Also make sure to set guidelines and explain that if someone declines to participate, leave it and don’t pressure anyone to participate.

The reasons why someone doesn’t want to participate are personal and can include religion, financial or something much deeper that they don’t want to share. Be clear that it is voluntary to participate. 

2. Stress

The holidays can bring stress in multiple ways both personally and professionally. Finding the right present, managing family obligations and balance can be a challenge. Couple any of those with year-end deadlines and the stress can amplify pretty quickly.

HR Tip: Proactively address this by promoting a balanced workload and recognizing the signs of stress. Encourage taking short breaks and offer resources like mindfulness sessions or relaxation techniques. Bring leadership in on trainings to identify the signs they should be on the lookout for and encourage them to keep the lines of communication open.  Remember, it’s important to create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their workload and stress levels without fear of judgment.

3. Loneliness

Christmas can heighten feelings of loneliness, especially for those far from family or grappling with personal issues. Over one-third of Americans deal with depression around this time of year. 

HR Tip: Foster an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued. Encourage social interactions through virtual coffee breaks or lunch chats. Additionally, make counseling services easily accessible through EAP for those who might need extra support. 

4. Nostalgia

The holidays often evoke nostalgia, what else can explain watching clay animation like Rudolph and Frosty? This can stir a mix of emotions both happy and sad. 

HR Tip: Create spaces for employees to share their holiday memories or traditions, if they wish. This can be through a photo sharing board or storytelling sessions. Be sensitive to the fact that nostalgia can sometimes be painful, and ensure support is available for those who might be struggling.

5. Overwhelmed

The bustle of the season can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and stretched thin, both at work and at home as well. 

HR Tip: Encourage employees to prioritize and set realistic expectations for themselves and their teams. Offer time-management workshops and ensure managers are equipped to help their team members balance their workload effectively. Remind employees there is only so much time available and communicate that to loved ones. The majority of overwhelmed feelings are self imposed and those around them are understanding. 

6. Gratitude

An attitude of gratitude is always a good thing, showing appreciation for what we have can go a long way. 

HR Tip: Foster a culture of appreciation. Implement initiatives like ‘gratitude journals’ or ‘appreciation boards’ where employees can openly express their thanks. Encourage managers to personally acknowledge the hard work and achievements of their team members.

7. Sadness

Despite the festive atmosphere, some individuals may experience sadness due to personal reasons. Maybe it is someones first holiday without a loved one. Maybe they can’t be with family for the first time. There are a lot of reasons, and all of them valid. 

HR Tip: Be vigilant and empathetic to these employees. Offer support through EAP counseling and ensure that managers are trained to approach such situations with sensitivity and care. Creating a supportive environment where employees feel they can share their feelings without stigma is crucial.

8. Excitement

The anticipation of the holidays often brings excitement for what it to come. This can cut both ways, good and bad. When the excitement is a distraction, that is when it starts to affect performance. 

HR Tip: Channel this positive energy into creative projects or team-building activities. Also, encourage employees to set personal and professional goals for the upcoming year, offering support and resources to achieve them.

9. Frustration

Unmet expectations and end-of-year pressures can lead to frustration. The lack of balance or overwhelming deadlines are a few of the many factors. 

HR Tip: Address this by setting clear, realistic goals and maintaining open lines of communication. Offer conflict resolution workshops and ensure managers are equipped to handle team dynamics effectively.

10. Reflection

Many reflect on their personal and professional growth during this time. It is natural as the calendar turns to the new year. 

HR Tip: Encourage this reflection through organized year-end reviews. Provide opportunities for employees to set new goals and offer resources to support their professional development.

11. Anxiety

Did they get the right present? Is their future safe with the company? The economy and rates are weighing heavy on people’s minds. 

HR Tip: Mitigate this by providing clear communication about the company’s direction and any changes that might be expected. Offer workshops on managing anxiety and stress, and ensure that employees are aware of the support available through EAP.

12. Hope

The new year often brings a sense of hope and new beginnings, which is always a welcomed emotion. 

HR Tip: Encourage this optimism by setting a positive tone for the year ahead. Organize team sessions to discuss aspirations and goals, and recognize the potential for growth and success in the coming year.

Having The Right EAP In Place Goes A Long Way All Year Long 

Each of these emotions requires a thoughtful approach from HR professionals. By recognizing and addressing these diverse emotional experiences, HR can play a key role in fostering a supportive and productive workplace environment during the holiday season.

Having a robust EAP solution like the Lifestyle EAP can be a great arrow in your quiver to help employees get the help they need. HR has enough on your plate, you deserve a partner like Covenant Workplace Solutions who understands the challenges you face all year long. Contact us today, and start your new year off right!