5 Year-End Workplace Stressors and How to Handle Them | Fierce

five busy co-worker dealing with common end-of-year workplace stressorsIt’s that wonderful time of year of holidays and celebrations. We should be joyful and grateful, enjoying the success of another great year together at work. But, we are often stressed with unfinished work and high-priority items to close out the year. 

The news and social media remind us every day of the rush of year-end and how to cope with holiday stress. We feel it in our work lives too. Staffing is often limited due to vacation time, but work still needs to be completed as we prepare for the next year.

So what are the biggest stressors organizations face throughout the year and how do you manage yourself and people through this time of the year?

Let’s look at….

5 common workplace stressors and how you can minimize the impact on your team…

and set yourself up for a successful New Year!


1. Tight Deadlines  & Unrealistic Goals

The jobseekers platform CareerCast surveyed 1,071 of its members and found that tight deadlines were the leading cause of workplace stress. This is a long-term trend in corporate life. As a leader, you can break the cycle. Help your people keep a closer eye on deadlines. 

All of us act surprised each year at the urgent deadlines as we close out the year, but it’s the same year after year. It reminds me of everyone’s reaction to winter each year as if they are surprised by the cold and snow. The cycle is the same and the only way to respond is to prepare and keep your eye on those deadlines before they overwhelm you. We all know how our year-end will resolve and that there will be time off. We are aware of the holiday dates, yet, we are still surprised. This is a perfect time to improve team dynamics and collaboration.

Tight deadlines are often the result of unrealistic goals set earlier in the year. Many times those goals were not modified over the year as market forces or organizational changes took place. Take time at the end of the year to re-evaluate goals, so you can create better processes for the next year. Goal setting and the discussion of deadlines can be an opportunity for collaboration with your people.  Any opportunities to deepen work relationships through productive conversations will increase team dynamics and productivity in the coming year.

2. Interpersonal conflicts

Interpersonal conflicts tend to heighten during the holiday time. As much as all of us like to separate work and non-work life, there’s always a bleed over. Stressors in any area of life will begin to affect you no matter how much you try to compartmentalize yourself. Holidays are stressful times of the year for many people. With the responsibilities of gift-giving as well as family entertainment those stressors often crowd out workplace focus. 

Couple holiday stress with year-end activities such as goal setting, deadlines, and performance evaluation and you have a recipe for short fuses and high anxiety

Be patient with people. Realize that everyone may be slightly on edge during this time of year. Increase communication and clarify tasks and requests with greater fervor than at other times of the year.  Recognize contributions and be extra gracious and grateful for the work people perform around you.

3. Isolation

Holidays can be a lonely time of year for many people. Now that many of us work in remote or hybrid settings, we don’t have the daily in-person interactions we may have had in years past. Especially as a manager recognize that natural work isolation due to work settings can lead to greater stress for many people during the holidays

Now is the perfect time of year to celebrate your people. Make them feel an essential and embedded part of the team. Recognition and holiday parties can help immensely when people begin to feel isolated. Talk to your teams more and make sure they are interacting with others.

Set aside time during the end of the year to have fun together as a group. You can also use team events to couple fun, recognition, and work. Goal setting together as a group and identifying those success behaviors that various people and teams did throughout the year accomplishing both values of recognition and collaboration

4. Unclear Expectations

It’s that time of year when many of us are giving and receiving. Yet, in the workplace, it’s not a lovely unexpected gift. It’s usually the giving and receiving of performance evaluations. Evaluations create a high level of anxiety for both parties involved. Many times the anxiety is due to unclear expectations. You walk into the evaluation unsure of how you performed or how the manager will respond to your quality of work.

The easiest way to eliminate the stressors around evaluations is to make performance clear throughout the year with constant check-ins and health feedback. In fact, the evaluation time should only be a summary of previous conversations with no surprises. If both parties have been clear with each other on goals, expectations, and accomplishments throughout the year, then evaluations can be a stress-free experience. Evaluations can be a look forward to the next year with improvement plans to exceed and grow from their experience from the previous 12 months of work

5. Change

Because we are at the cusp of a new year, many organizations will use this time to realign teams, goals, and strategies for the new year. New processes and systems are adopted. In some cases, internal reorganization may be on tap for the New Year.

Facing the prospect of such changes can create great stress for many people. As a manager, survey the landscape of potential change expected at the New Year. Begin prepping your people for the changes. Most team members are looking for some sense of security and stability in their jobs and careers. Couch any change as an opportunity for growth so they can be more secure in their skills and the future of their career.

If teams are changing, begin introducing people in teams through meetings and events. Make sure every individual feels ready for potential changes on the horizon in the New Year.

Many of the Fierce programs address the challenges that bubble up during the end of the year. Often year-end magnifies those issues because they weren’t addressed properly throughout the year. You can deepen your abilities to over greater feedback and increase team dynamics through Fierce Team and Fierce Feedback.  

If you sense that stress is becoming overwhelming for your team, consider the new Fierce Resilience program that helps everyone identify stressors throughout the year, so year-end doesn’t feel like an avalanche of anxiety.

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