Ensuring employees take a proper break from work over Christmas is the best gift you can give them — and your business.
Now, more than ever, the benefits of disconnecting from the workplace are huge, Ai Group’s National Manager – Work Health Safety Consulting Services Trinette Jaeschke says.
“You get a better sense of the big-picture strategy of your business when you return to work after a break,” she added.
“You have more energy and motivation and are better able to retain information and process new information.
“You will also be more creative and more likely to create healthier habits, because when you are stressed and under the pump at work, you often take the easiest option: you get takeaway, or you don’t tend to exercise or get outdoors and get that Vitamin D you need.
“Creating these healthier habits will, in turn, make you much more productive when you return to work.”
The rapid transmission of Omicron and the potential impact it has on holiday plans is a fresh source of stress for workers winding down.
“With the lead-up to Christmas, there are a lot of people who are Covid-exhausted,” Ms Jaeschke said.
“Right across the country, people are really exhausted with Covid. Having to be stuck in their homes, hearing it on the news all the time. There’s fatigue everywhere.
“I don’t think people realise how fatigued they are and how all the events of the past 18 months have drained them.
“A result of that is that people continue to run, like a duck paddling furiously to stay afloat, without recognising that there are signs that they could be stressed or signs that they do have mental fatigue.
“People don’t tend to recognise stress until it’s late. Particularly chronic stress. It’s when you start getting headaches or start having relationship problems or financial issues. These all exemplify ways that people feel when they know they’re stressed.
“A lot of people don’t know Covid stress has impacted them, so you've just got to take that break.
“You need to be able to stop, recharge and reset in order to be able to get back into work.”
Growing unease about Omicron does not have to curtail holiday fun.
There are three different holidays you can potentially take to recharge yourself, Ms Jaeschke says.
Choose from a:
“No matter what you choose, the important thing is to actually take a break,” Ms Jaeschke said.
“Not everyone can go away on a big holiday so consider the other ways you can enjoy the break with your family. For many schoolchildren, the past 18 months have been focused on home learning and strict structure.
"The rules kids have at school have had to be incorporated at home, so it hasn’t been a lot of fun.”
Ai Group’s People & Culture Director Belinda Woods said Christmas shutdowns are the ultimate way to ensure people switch off — including managers.
“Shutdowns mean less email traffic and less temptation to ‘quickly check in’. Everyone needs a complete break at times” she said.
“You’ve got to rest and recharge and re-establish your goals for the New Year. Think about what can wait until the New Year and what can’t.
“Even if you’re not going anywhere, it’s important to switch off from work. Put your phone down, switch off your alerts and take a proper break.”
Wendy Larter is the Senior Content Writer at Ai Group. She is a journalist with more than 20 years’ experience as a reporter, features writer, contributor and sub-editor for newspapers and magazines including The Courier-Mail in Brisbane and Metro, News of the World, The Times and Elle in the UK.