With the holidays just around the corner, this is a stressful time for many. The many holiday and end-of-year tasks must be completed, but those tasks are made all the more complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines. These unprecedented times call many of us to adjust our holiday routines to help keep our loved ones and communities safe and healthy, and this necessary adjustment only adds to the stress many of us already experience this time of year. Fortunately, those of us in professional leadership positions can help. Our organizations have quite a few resources at our disposal to mitigate employee stress during this end-of-year time. Here are JumpScale’s recommendations for how your company can support your employees through the holiday season:

1. Skip the virtual cocktail hour

Go beyond a generic online holiday party, and instead plan an engaging group experience that everyone will remember for years to come. For example, Chocomotions does group bean-to-bar chocolate tasting experiences over Zoom. If chocolate is not your thing, check out Donkey & Goat which hosts virtual wine tastings. – JumpScale Senior Advisor, Heather Lord

2. Gift health benefits through plants

Plants have been proven to reduce workplace (or home office) stress, improve indoor air quality, and increase happiness. Employers could gift small plants, or go bigger with a gift like Back to the Roots’ plant growing kits. Something unique like a grow kit helps to create positive connections among the employees and their families, and can create a group experience for employees to show the progress of their plants. We heard back from employees, customers and our investors for many months into the new year telling us all about their plants, how their families were making meals from them, and letting us know when they planted them outside in their garden in the spring.

3. Virtual meeting tools for personal holiday connection

Communication with friends and family during tough times is proven to be consequential to well-being. By making company virtual meeting tools available to employees for personal use, employers can help take away some of the team members’ 2020 holiday stress of determining how to meet online. Companies can also provide employees with suggestions for healthy and engaging conversations for these Zoom calls, for example shared cooking sessions, fun family history interview questions, or simply playing a game.

4. Access to mindfulness experiences 

We start each meeting with a mindfulness exercise. Encourage mindfulness practices at work, at home, and over the holidays to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve physical health from overall health measures like blood pressure to relief of physical pain. Encourage healthy living by sponsoring access to group or individual online mindfulness experiences. There are many options, from group experiences on a regular basis to individual experiences via apps and other 1×1 online sessions.

5. Gift of time

Implement a company or team-wide “low work week” around particularly stressful times of the year. Whether the low work period is a full 5 days or even 3 days, an officially sanctioned low-work period can make a huge difference for your team’s productivity and wellbeing. Big ideas need breathing room, human beings need breathing room, and in many “gogogo” work cultures, breathing room needs permission from leadership to actually happen and to flourish. – JumpScale Senior Advisor, Heather Lord

We hope you find these suggestions helpful, and that you feel excited to equip your employees with tools to take care of themselves during this holiday season.