Nov 30th, 2022
11 mins

It is officially acceptable to talk about Christmas – even though, from a business perspective, it’s been on all our minds for a while.

Sodexo Engage, part of Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services, is a leading expert in employee engagement, providing award-winning employee benefits, rewards and recognition, creating experiences that make a real difference to people’s lives, both inside and outside the workplace.  

Sodexo Engage delivers powerful employee experience solutions which are developed in partnership with their stakeholders to lift the happiness and wellbeing of their people, which in turn supports their objectives and business performance. 

Sodexo recently talked about How to avoid Pre-Christmas Burnout and Recognising and Reducing Stress in the Workplace, but those articles focused on stress predominantly caused by work.

Here, they are focusing on Christmas as the cause of your employees’ stress and, as an employer, how you can provide meaningful support during the festive season.


It’s worth highlighting the need to be inclusive and mindful since not all employees will celebrate Christmas. For those that do, it can be an incredible time of year. However, businesses must understand that people will experience Christmas differently and be mindful that the festive season will cause additional personal and financial stress for some.

YouGov analysis from 2019 found that in the UK, more than two in five people experienced stress, and one in four struggled with anxiety and depression during Christmas. These figures could include your employees, and their mental wellbeing needs to be a business priority.

Employers will treat this as a time of celebration, but when the lights shine brightly, we need to pay attention to those hiding their struggles in the shadows.


As an employer, you have information that helps you understand your employees as people. If you only take one thing away from this article, let it be a desire to provide individualised employee support in whatever form it’s needed.

If you have employees who have separated from their partners or suffered a bereavement during the year, Christmas 2022 will look and feel vastly different to how it did last year.

Are your line managers as aware, empathetic, and supportive as they could be?

Do you operate an open-door policy where employees feel confident and comfortable discussing personal problems? 

If you’re unsure of the answers to these questions, or you’re inclined to answer in the negative, it’s time to review your organisation’s culture and take steps to support mental health at work.


We’re experiencing a cost-of-living crisis, and, on average, with gifts, food, and entertainment, families spend an average of £500 more during Christmas. Most will budget and save for this extra expense, but this year, with energy bills at an all-time high, it’s been more challenging to set aside funds.  

Households are making difficult decisions because, ultimately, something’s got to give. Once again, this isn’t a pressure caused by your organisation, but businesses will feel the effects when engagement and productivity levels decline because of personal financial worries.



At this year’s EBLive exhibition, Sodexo Engage had the pleasure of sponsoring Ollie Ollerton’s keynote speech on the Power to Perform. His message focused on building people’s mental and physical resilience and the employers’ role in this.



We must move away from focusing on the cost to the business and, instead, understand the business benefits.

“We need to work a lot more on mental wealth, it’s the best investment we can make.” Ollie Ollerton, BreakPoint, EBLive 2022

As Ollie says, supporting employee mental wellbeing or mental wealth needs to be viewed as an investment. There may be an initial payment, but your business will likely see a return.

Here at Sodexo, we have an Employee Assistance Programme designed to support the mental wellbeing of your people. Our EAP service is fully managed and gives you access to accredited counsellors over the phone and face-to-face.

Mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, are believed to trigger 70% of doctor visits and 85% of serious illnesses, and we’ve established that Christmas can increase anxiety and depression. Starting 2023 by incorporating mental health wellbeing within your business will not only provide vital support to your employees but also boost performance, employee retention and talent acquisition.



Add physical wellbeing initiatives, such as a Corporate Gym Membership or our Cycle to Work scheme, and you’re on your way to an all-encompassing employee wellbeing initiative. Also, as a salary sacrifice scheme, your business will make savings on National Insurance Contributions for every cycle purchased through your company.



You may think it’s too late to make changes that will provide financial support to your employees before Christmas, but that’s not the case. If you’ve not yet delivered the employee Christmas gift, bonus, or reward, then why not consider our Voucher Cheques?

Voucher Cheques are one of our most popular Christmas reward options because they’re bespoke to your business. You create the look and feel and set an amount, and your employees redeem their vouchers online. There’s a vast selection of brands and retailers to choose from, including supermarkets, so your employees can treat themselves or put it towards the festive food shop.

Better still, we only bill your business for the redeemed vouchers.

Have you considered incorporating a prepaid cashback card into your organisation to effectively support your employees’ financial wellbeing in 2023 and beyond?

Whether your business adds funds as a benefit or reward or leaves your employees to top up themselves, with our Spree cashback card in their hands, your people could earn up to 15% cashback at over 80 retailers.



As employee engagement experts, we often discuss the importance of employee benefits and rewards as crucial to boosting employee engagement and performance, but providing wellbeing support is equally as vital.

The world is very much focused on the cost-of-living crisis, and many employers are adding to the wage packet to help ease employees’ financial burdens. However, to reinforce the resilience of their employees, organisations also need to incorporate financial, physical and mental wellbeing initiatives.

Boost employee performance by boosting employee wellbeing. Speak with one of our engagement experts today to discover how to get more for less, with maximum impact.



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