by Alex Palmer | December 30, 2014
Rather than being a time of relaxation and revitalization for the new year, the year-end holiday season is more likely a time of intense stress for workers, a new study finds. Research from workplace wellness organization Virgin Pulse finds that 70 percent of workers are significantly more stressed during the holidays.

The study, titled "Tis the Season for Stress," drew on the responses of more than 1,000 full-time workers in the U.S. and Canada, finding that 64 percent of respondents find that holiday stress distracts them from their work. With maintaining a comfortable work/life balance harder than ever during the busy holiday season, most respondents describe taking up work time to handle their holiday tasks.

Almost half (46 percent) report spending work time to take care of online shopping, while 32 percent conduct personal conversations with family and friends about holiday preparations. Additionally, 28 percent use time in the workday to take care of holiday-related errands, while 20 percent research holiday recipes, and 15 percent coordinate travel.

Virgin Pulse suggests that this is rooted in a sense of anxiety about getting everything done in time for holiday get-togethers. The top concerns of respondents are shopping for gifts and events (with 65 percent pointing it out) and managing finances (60 percent). Also making the list are crowds at the stores (cited by 44 percent of workers), family dynamics (43 percent), and balancing family and work responsibilities during the holiday (43 percent).

To ensure workers are still being productive during the stressful, distracting holidays, Virgin Pulse recommends that managers return employees' focus to the single most important task they have each day. This can be combined with a company-wide wellness or performance competition to get workers concentrating on health and productivity. Finally, the company suggests encouraging workers to completely unplug when they do leave for the holiday to clearly distinguish between the personal and professional time of the season.