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Here’s 9 Fun Activities That Eliminate Employees’ Holiday Stress

Keep your staff happy with simple activities that satisfy the soul – and your bottom line.

The busiest time of year can also be the most stressful – especially for employees working in the hospitality industry.

While upper level management watches the seasonal numbers climb, workers can become stressed to the point that it affects their performance (and inspires a job hunt in the new year).

Sleepopolis – an online research company dedicated to promoting healthy living – recently polled over 1,000 Americans to find out how the holidays affect stress levels. Their study confirms that 8 in 10 people feel extra stress during the holidays. Over half of that stress comes from worrying about finances.

Employees generally carry personal stress into their professional environment. Those feelings can become even more pronounced during the winter season and transfer to other coworkers – and guests.

A pay raise or bonus might do the trick, but it isn’t always possible. And other forms of increased compensation, like making more in tips, still doesn’t cancel out an overwhelming workload.

When words like “jolly” and “merry” are being thrown around as often as you see someone holding a pumpkin spice latte, it’s time to give employee morale a boost. Here are some surefire ways to bring your staff together and inspire them to create a wonderful winter atmosphere for themselves and guests alike:

  1. Holiday potluck – Organize a potluck meal with employees. Everyone signs up to bring in a side dish or dessert, and the company can provide the proteins and main dish. This takes the pressure off of everyone (and you) to spend big bucks hosting an extravagant meal. It also means coworkers can get to know each other better through their unique offerings.
  2. Gift exchange – Employees may have a handful of friends they want to share presents with and are afraid to leave other coworkers out. Or, there may be an individual who doesn’t have anyone close enough to consider buying for. Throw names in a bag and have everyone select someone. Set a spending limit. Better yet, require the gift to be homemade. This could produce some silly results, and everyone will feel the joy.
  3. Bakeoff – Have some talented bakers on staff? Challenge them to the ultimate holiday cookie showdown. Set rules, select judges, and provide an award for top baker. There can even be categories, like Best Chocolate Cookie, Best Nut-Free Cookie, and Best Vegan Cookie to make sure everyone with dietary restrictions is included. The best part? Everyone gets to enjoy the results.
  4. Team field trip – This is easier to organize than you might think. Assign an activity leader and select a place to take your staff. If you can’t fund the entire activity, that’s okay. Just let everyone know ahead of time. Whether it’s a happy hour or hours at a skating rink, your employees will appreciate the effort and the time to create deeper bonds through some fun.
  5. New Year’s burning bowl – Provide burning paper and ask staff to write down their resolutions, as well as things they may want to let go of. Set a small fire in a fireproof bowl (keep fire safety in mind and research the correct workplace protocol for this!) and create a peaceful environment where employees can quietly commit to their futures. The space should be calm, and they should be allowed to sit and take it in. If real fire is not an option, try dissolving paper with a bowl of water.
  6. Charity outreach – There are plenty of people needing extra support during the holidays. Get in touch with a local charity or nonprofit organization and see what’s needed. It can be anything from organizing a food drive to asking employees if they want to volunteer at a shelter. Don’t worry about coming across like you’re assigning extra work. Your staff will be proud to work for a company that cares.
  7. Snowman dress up – Create cardboard snowmen and divide workers into teams. Whether you place the snowmen around the restaurant, lobby, or in a breakroom, encourage teams to decorate and dress up their snowman as wildly and wacky as they can imagine, while encouraging workplace appropriateness, of course. Winner receives paid time off, or a team lunch, or any other prize.
  8. Quiz night – Ever been to a quiz night at your local pub? It’s exactly what’s needed to bring the team together. Create cards with a list of holiday-themed questions and select a manager as quiz master. It never hurts to provide refreshments. And as always, award the winning team with something special. If you don’t want to make people stay late, arrange a brunch quiz or have it take the place of a regularly scheduled staff meeting.
  9. Holiday karaoke – There’s nothing like singing offkey in front of your coworkers to get closer. Nowadays, you don’t even need a karaoke machine to create the magic. Just connect to a bluetooth speaker, get a microphone and speaker, and plug in your favorite songs on YouTube. This activity might need to be accompanied with some adult beverages for a little liquid courage.

Your staff’s mental and physical wellness should be a top priority, especially around this time of year where the potential for profits are high. Considering we’re still surviving a pandemic and dealing with the high costs of inflation, it’s no wonder we’re more stressed than ever. Guests are more likely to spend when the vibe is right, and that vibe starts and ends with customer service.

As much as you want your guests to feel the love, it has to start with your workforce.