The holidays can be a stressful time, both physically and emotionally. What’s the best way to help your employees unwind and feel better? If you’re McDonald’s or Walmart, apparently it’s singing along to holiday tunes or handing out cans of food.
The two corporate giants have come under fire for their odd approaches of trying to help their employees deal with holiday stress. McDonald's internal corporate web site, the McResource Line, suggests stressed-out employees do things like break their food into small pieces, “chew away cares” with gum and sing along to their favorite songs, according to Salon. Apparently “singing along to your favorite songs can lower your blood pressure” too.
Some McDonald’s workers aren’t overjoyed. A group of striking fast-food workers just released a video, available on LowPayisNotOK.org, mocking the company for its employee tips.
Walmart stores have taken another controversial approach. Managers have set out bins that ask employees to donate food to their coworkers in need. A sign next to one bin at a Walmart store in Canton, Ohio reads: "Please donate food items here so Associates in Need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner."
"That Walmart would have the audacity to ask low-wage workers to donate food to other low-wage workers—to me, it is a moral outrage," Norma Mills, an organizer with Stand Up Ohio, a workers rights group, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
So if sing-alongs and employee-donated food aren’t the way to go, what are some ways companies can truly help their employees deal with holiday stress? The Upper Bay Counseling & Support Services in Maryland offered these ideas:
Praise your staff more. Workers will likely appreciate extra encouragement, respect and compliments around the holidays.
Offer more flexible scheduling. Your employees might feel crunched and need time to shop or be with their family. If possible, give employees extra personal time or even let them conduct holiday shopping and run errands during their workday. (If you need more holiday help, you might want to hire temporary workers to ease demands on your permanent workers.)
Be sensitive to cultural differences. Not everyone celebrates Christmas. It’s important to also make sure that employees who celebrate other holidays—whether Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or none at all—feel comfortable during the holiday season.
Pay attention to your employees’ needs. Look out for employees who seem stressed out or time-strapped and offer them help.
Don’t add to the holiday burden. Refrain from making your employees do too much extra around the holidays, whether that’s buying gifts for coworkers or requiring them to attending work-related holiday parties. One employee holiday party or event may be appreciated, but too many obligations may only stress them out more.
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