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How Gratitude Can Reduce Employee Stress & Boost Engagement During the Holidays

Rachel Reed
12/20/17 9:32 AM

Gratitude isn’t just for sharing stories over a golden brown turkey in November. Expressing gratitude has physiological benefits and promotes productivity, boosts employee engagement, and is, not to mention, contagious!

Workers are more likely to feel stress between November and December due to finances, calorie consumption, travel coordination, and compressed deadlines, according to a Healthline survey.

Employers who focus on the needs of employees and prospective talent have the opportunity to ensure that perception and attitudes toward the organization are positive by designing a culture of recognition equipped for growth and gratitude.

During the holidays especially, reduce stress on employees experience:

Loosen up the schedule

Allow employees to either leave early, come in late, or extend lunch during the holiday months. The switch up will take the pressure off and boost employee engagement. They will appreciate that small gesture as the smallest acknowledgement of the busiest time of year will humanize management.

Be available

If it isn’t already, open the office door. Transparency and availability to listen to grievances will put employees at ease.

Acknowledge holiday stress

Everyone. Everyone. Everyone is stressed during the holidays. Be open with employees and give a nod to the ubiquitous holiday stress tornado.

Ask before giving

Survey the team and ask what they prefer for holiday gifting. Are bonuses important to them? Or a company outing? Where would they like to celebrate for the company party? Include employees in an open dialogue.


Research on gratitude and recognition in the workplace reveals a link to higher job satisfaction, less stress, higher productivity, and even fewer sick days. It activates regions in the brain associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine, which creates neural pathways to the “happy” center of the brain.  The more regularly and often the brain is exposed, the more regular and automatic these neural pathways become. Simply weaving gratitude into the fabric of workplace culture will create a domino effect–as it boosts employees’ self-esteem and optimism, they are more likely to spread the sentiment of their own. Expressing thanks can improve a person’s wellness, sleep, metabolism and reduce stress, prompting a continuous cycle of positive feedback.


Want to know more about employee recognition? 

Head over to our employee recognition guide page!

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