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How Can I Help Staff Avoid Christmas Burnout?

Published November 24, 2021 (last updated December 8, 2021) - [email protected]
employee not affected by burnout

In the ramp up to Christmas, your business may be racing to meet deadlines for a Christmas closedown. Or yours may be a business manically preparing for your busiest period all year. Ahh Christmas time, a time of relaxation and fun for many, can be a time of intense pressure for many businesses. After the slower pace of lock-down, it could certainly be a shock to the system, for your staff to finding themselves in full flight mode! Whether your business is trying to get everything completed for closure, or all up and running for a Christmas stampede, be aware some staff may be heading for burn-out and overwhelm.   

Whilst it’s fantastic your star-manager wants to get to work early and leave late, it may be counterproductive if then they become burnt-out just before they are needed. One burn-out employee can negatively impact everyone.  

As employers it’s valuable to recognise when your staff and managers may be feeling overwhelmed with their pre-Christmas workload, and work out how to support employees during the preparation for Christmas. 

What Are The Signs Of Burn out? 

  • Frustration and irritability with co-workers 
  • Forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating  
  • Diminished pride in work 
  • Negativity whereas before they were positive 

Why Would My Employees Suffer From Burn Out? 

Some employees are more predisposed to burn out than others. They may be the types that are perfectionists, or worriers or just love doing a good job, with huge pride in their work. Whatever their motivation is, it’s their inability to look after themselves and wanting to do a great job that ultimately burns them out and ironically be able to do their job.  

They are the types who won’t ask for too much help or support.Therefore, they are unlikely to ask for help. So, it’s up to you to be aware and reach out to them. 

It may be escalating holiday work volume, or rapidly moving work deadlines as Christmas approaches that forces the employee to think that they must work harder and harder to meet what they consider are their sole obligations.  

This kind of ‘I must do it all alone myself’ is exactly the kind of attitude that helps people reach burn out.  

What Can I Do To Help Staff Avoid Christmas Burn Out? 


Remind them what expectations are, make it clear they aren’t expected to work an extra trillion hours a day. Of course, a little extra a day is appreciated during crazy times, but if it means they are skipping lunch every day and not seeing their kids/partner etc, then tell them you need to know, so you can support them appropriately. Ask them directly what support they need, try to be open to suggestions and respond with positivity even if you can’t offer immediate support, say that you will consider options to support the staff member better during the busier times.  


Remind the employee to delegate when they can. And importantly that you are supporting them in this, create a dialogue where you can both delegate. In smaller businesses, it can be this inability to talk to business owners about how well the workload is being handled, that can lead to some workers taking on too much, hard workers want to be recognised as that, and see asking for help, as ‘failure’. Foster a dialogue where staff members feel they can admit when they need more time and support.  

Learn To Say No 

Everyone has learnt that a ‘can-do’ attitude will get them far, but when is this too much? Again, if the staff member is missing meals, breaks and is rushing their work and cutting corners in a desperate attempt to tick things off a never-ending to-do list, in time for Christmas, then it’s time to support them by instructing them when it’s okay, to say no and push back to customers, clients or other staff members.  

It’s easy to think another sale, another success, but success is also measured in longevity and if you are burning out all your staff, then where is the success in that? 

Let staff know they can say no, and crucially let them know they are supported in pushing back sometimes.  

Practical Actions You Can Take 

  • Talk to staff and ask them directly what support they need to prepare for Christmas.  
  • Hire casuals or fixed term staff if this will help your permanent employees 
  • Arrange a Christmas protocol for work volume delegation 
  • Make work volumes limits and expectations clear  

Remember employees who can suffer from burn-out are the types who put a lot of pressure on themselves, so help them out by taking some pressure off. Taking care of your employees IS taking care of your business.  

Considering hiring casuals over Christmas? Should you hire casuals or fixed term staff for Christmas? Check out our e-guide for in-depth easy to read info. If you need workplace employment relations advice, then click below to let us know when is good to call you.  

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About Employsure

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small- and medium-businesses, with over 30,000 clients in ANZ. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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