The Chicago Employment Law Blog

Keep Holiday-Related Workplace Stress In Check

Many employers, particularly retailers, rely on the madness of the winter holiday shopping season for the bulk of their annual revenues. That often translates to a high stress level for employees; but both workers and managers can avoid burnout and potential legal quagmires by taking extra precautions during the pre-Christmas rush, according to the Chicago Tribune's latest business column.

For example, Burr Ridge-based PersonalizationMall.com earns 35 percent of its income during the holiday shopping season and runs two 11 1/2-hour shifts to keep up with seasonal demand.

The company fills about 15,000 orders of personalized mugs, ornaments and other gift items each day during the holiday season. Co-founder and executive vice president Kathy Napleton acknowledges that it gets quite stressful.

If employers fail to provide a safe workplace, skimp on overtime pay or create an atmosphere ripe for conflict, they may hear from Illinois employment lawyers. And stress itself can lead to actual illness or injury, leading to a possible workers' compensation claim or related issue.

Kathy Napleton likely is aware of such employment laws but said the company brings in free meals and encourages workers to help one another during this period just out of their shared interest in getting the work done with few hiccups.

Experts, including researchers who published the results of the American Psychological Association's 2010 Stress in America survey, said stress throughout the year most often is related to work. In fact, 75 percent of those surveyed said they experienced an unhealthy amount of stress in the past year.

Workers at PersonalizationMall.com know as soon as they're hired that the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is off limits for vacation. This includes management, Kathy Napleton said, which alleviates the type of resentment that often leads to lawsuits:

"We don't force anyone to do anything. We gather. We meet. We talk about the schedules, and we just always work it out."

If you're not fortunate to have an employer sensitive to the ill effects of stress and believe your rights may have been violated, contact a Chicago employment lawyer for a consultation.

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