Holidays are a happy time to celebrate with family and friends, but are also a stressful time, that can cause a loss of productivity at work. Studies show that people’s stress levels increase during the holiday season, and productivity decreases throughout the month of December. How can you turn this around? Consider these ideas.

Rethink the office holiday party. While a tradition for many companies, the holiday party can create more stress for your employees, adding another time commitment to an already packed schedule, while pulling them away from family obligations. It can also negatively impact productivity the following day. Before you plan a celebration, reach out to your employees and ask them how they want to celebrate – whether that is a party, an afternoon off, or a delayed celebration in January.

Be inclusive of all traditions and cultures. Work should and must be a place free from discrimination, where workers feel safe. Consider the various cultural and religious celebrations observed by your employees and be sure everyone is included in any holiday celebrations, and employees are given appropriate times off to celebrate per their traditions.

Respect personal time. December is a busy month, with many personal obligations for employees. Respect their need for personal time by not scheduling off-hours meetings, being flexible with work schedules, and encouraging a healthy work/home balance.

Volunteer as an office. Giving to others is a proven way to reduce stress and increase happiness. Coming together as an office to give back to your community is a rewarding way to boost morale. Simple ideas are to organize a food or toy drive, or you could consider taking an afternoon off to shop for and deliver gifts to a local hospital or charity.

Balance workloads. With the end of the year approaching, it is also the end of the fiscal year for many companies, which can lead to additional stress. Check in with your employees about their workloads and deadlines, and extend deadlines or shift work among the team if necessary.

Holiday stress is a significant problem for many, but you don’t have to let it affect your employees’ work. By taking steps within the office to reduce work-related stress and increase support, you can foster an environment for engaged, happy, productive employees to prosper.