Christmas: bah-humbug or fa-lalla-la-la…

December 21, 2016

Our very own podcaster, HR Manager Becky Mee, has cast aside her voice recorder and put pen to paper (ok, digits to laptop) to consider why Christmas isn’t always the Season to be Jolly for you or your employees, and what you can do about it.


Well Christmas is here again and according to that well known Andy Williams song, ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’.   Well is certainly is if you’re the kind of person who loves Christmas and gets as giddy as a kipper as soon as December 1st comes around (if not before).  For others, like me, it’s a more decidedly ‘bah-humbug’ affair.

So what do you do if you have a chasm between team ‘Ho Ho Holidays!’ and team ‘Oh dear Lord please let me crawl back under the duvet until January’?  Joking aside, there are a lot of religious festivals at this time of year, with lots to get excited about.  However, many of these events focus on family, community, friends and being part of something, which not everyone has.  This has been a theme since before Dickins wrote a Christmas Carol (remember Scrooge waking up alone on Christmas morning?) and sadly it isn’t getting any better.

Have I depressed you yet? Apologies if I have.  I’m currently trying to ‘think’ myself into the Christmas spirit by wearing a Santa hat whilst in the office.  According to Alisa this is ‘not on’ as I don’t like Christmas and I’m being ironic.  Not strictly true, I think I just need some encouragement…or some total immersion therapy!  Either way, being the Christmas party pooper is not my aim and I’ve been trying to get to the root of my whole ‘bah humbug’ malaise.

  • It’s dark at this time of year. Really dark. Plus I also know that it’s only going to get darker in January. Zzzzzzz.  What do you mean I can’t hibernate?  I’m not a bear?  So, I dust off the Light Box and have 30 minutes of light therapy each morning.  Other colleagues have asked if I can bring the box in and put it in the office – this isn’t as daft as it sounds and can provide real relief for all.
  • I like being outside and in winter I’m cooped up in a stuffy office, avoiding the drizzle. Getting out for a walk, even for 10 minutes at break time is a real help. Shout out to office dogs Jasper and Pru on this one, who are the most keen members of the team at walkies time!
  • Organising Christmas is an issue for most people, either through ‘discussions’ as to where to spend Christmas or knowing that you actually have no one to spend Christmas with. Christmas loneliness is affecting more people in the UK, young, middle aged and elderly alike. No, I’m not asking to be adopted for Christmas – don’t panic! However, being mindful of what is happening with your team at Christmas can help.  One way is to encourage Christmas volunteering and community activities with your team, giving the whole team something extra to get involved in, giving something back and feeling like they belong.
  • This time of year is also really hard for those who have lost someone in the last 12 months. Grief rears its head again and someone who you thought was coping well may need more support and empathy. If you have an employee assistance helpline as part of your healthcare and wellness programme this can be a real help.
  • Money worries also come to the fore at Christmas. There’s nothing festive about looking at your credit card bill and thinking how you’re going to pay it all off. Offering financial planning workshops through a third party, or making information available on Debt Advice Charities such as Step Change, can help your team with tough decisions before it becomes a real worry that starts to affect them at work.
  • Organise a work event where you can celebrate the festivities together such as a work lunch. This time last week at HR180 we were holding a Christmas Fuddle (Food Cuddle!) where we bring a pot luck lunch and exchange our Secret Santa gifts.  It all helps!


Whatever Christmas brings, if you are struggling to get to grips with what needs to happen in your workplace to be fair on everyone please give us a call now either to help with this Christmas or get planning ahead for 2017. Call the HR superheroes on 0808 1221 180.

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