December 20, 2013 - Rachel Miller
The countdown to Christmas should come with a health warning as stress, exhaustion and illness strikes offices, according to new research.
The survey conducted by AXA PPP Healthcare found that 69% of employees' workloads increase in the run up to Christmas – on average by 30%. The poll of 2,000 people also found that three-quarters of Brits say they've been struck by Christmas sickness – and for 28% this is a regular occurrence. It also found that 36% of us have had to cancel plans with family and friends because of festive burnout.
In addition, employees find it hard to switch off over Christmas – 68% think about work during the break and 21% check work calls and emails several times a day over the Christmas holidays.
Festive burnout hits the legal profession, entertainment and travel and tourism industries hardest, with over 80% having suffered from illness over their Christmas holidays.
The stress of the festive countdown and holiday period even leaves 26% of Brits wishing they could skip Christmas entirely and 41% return to work after Christmas feeling relieved to be back, worried about their heavy workload.
Dr Mark Winwood, AXA PPP Healthcare's director of psychological services, said: "For many employees, Christmas is full of stress and pressure and the chance to recharge their batteries is overshadowed by exhaustion and illness. Prior to the holidays, employers need to take precautionary steps to ensure that their employees get through this hectic period and come back firing on all cylinders in January."
He adds: "The good news is that a few simple steps can make all the difference." By encouraging employees to make small changes, employers can help them to avoid the downsides of the festive frenzy.
These steps include being realistic about what can and can't be achieved before the Christmas break, and ensuring business continuity responsibilities are shared out fairly.