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Christmas period is the most stressful for employees

The holiday period is meant to be a time for celebration, but new research shows December is the most stressful month for workers and reduces worker productivity.

December is the most stressful time of year for 42 percent of workers, according to a survey by insurance company MetLife released this week.

The need to balance work responsibilities with family life, and colleagues taking holidays before the end of the year, were given as the main causes of stress.

Milena Boniek | PhotoAlto | Getty Images

The online survey of 1,067 people found that office Christmas parties did little to relieve this stress. Two fifths of respondents (37 percent) did not want to go their work's celebrations because they wanted to keep their work and family life separate or the date clashed with something at home, while 18 percent did not have a work party to go to.

"Stress is a major issue at work and has a major impact on business performance. Unfortunately it doesn't go away at Christmas," said Tom Gaynor, employee benefits director of MetLife U.K., in a press release.

"It is a pity that many people want to opt out of Christmas celebrations at work but it is clear that juggling home life and year-end work pressures is tough for millions of employees."

Managing and preventing the build-up of stress is important to employers, as stress has negative impacts on employee's productivity.

"From 18 December, with five full working days to go, nearly half the workforce hits 'Festive Fizzle-out' which leaves them spending more time worried about Christmas festivities rather than work," said Chris Rowley, professor of Human Resource Management at Cass Business School, in an article.

According to Rowley, research by catering company Avenance in 2005 found that 68 percent of workers were less productive during December. Nearly half of workers admitted to a survey that they did 10 to 20 percent less work, while 1 in 6 produced 20 to 30 percent less.

Exhaustion, lack of motivation and feeling hung over were the main reasons given for reduced productivity.

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