Do you notice more absenteeism at work during the gray, cold winter months?
Does productivity seem to slow, and staff energy wane?
With shorter days and less sunlight, many people experience the winter blues, a phenomenon characterized by sadness and fatigue, which can leave people unmotivated, irritable, and vulnerable to colds and flu.
Employers can help staff members combat the winter blues by building a positive, work environment where the tools for staying energized and happy are easily within reach. Here are our top tools to beat the blues:
Natural daylight is rich with mood-boosting Vitamin D, so give your employees the opportunity to soak it in. Encourage people to take breaks outside; you can even mix up the standard work meeting by getting out and walking around the building.
If access to natural daylight isn’t possible, fluorescent lighting can help. Go for a cool white shade with ultraviolet screens, which, according to the Canadian Mental Health Division article “Tips To Beat The Winter Blues At Work” , produces light similar in colour composition to outdoor light.
Seems obvious, but it works. Here’s an example:
“To keep employee morale and energy at high levels during particularly busy times of the year, executives at the Cigna Group, an insurance company headquartered in Hartford, Connecticut, personally push coffee around the office, serving drinks and refreshments to their front line partners,” says 1001 Ways To Reward Employees author Bob Nelson. Employees appreciate the gesture, and it gives management a quick opportunity to connect one-to-one with staff and strengthen team bonds.
We’re all about “Fresh Fruit Fridays” as a way to promote workplace wellness. It’s as easy as providing a bowl of oranges in the staff kitchen, and it can make a powerful impression. Small gestures such as this encourage your team to eat better and feel energized. As Livestrong Fitness contributor Jonathan Thompson says, “There is strong evidence that simple changes in diet and regular exercise can help you endure seasonal mood swings until the sun shines again.”
Even ten minutes of activity a day can go a long way towards improving a person’s mood. Reduce office-wide stress and irritability by encouraging employees to integrate physical activity into their daily routine.
Allow brisk walk breaks throughout the day. Create incentives for taking the stairs, walking to work, or signing up for office sports teams. Offer subsidized gym passes, or bring a fitness instructor on-site as a weekly treat. Staffing services such as these often translate as perks, which can positively impact employee retention and company culture.
Time to De-clutter
Desk mess can be exhausting and distracting, making it difficult to stay energized and get stuff done. Encourage your team to keep their space clean with team-wide “de-clutter” sessions. Allot twenty minutes once a week to overhauling personal office spaces. Blast some fun music and provide dusting clothes and other cleaning supplies to turn every session into a welcome cognitive break from their usual tasks. It’s the perfect mid-week pick-me-up for clarity and motivation!
Providing employees with the tools to combat winter blues at the workplace is an effective way to maintain productivity during the darker, colder months. But for some of your staff, the issue could be more serious than feeling glum under gray skies. Around 2-3% of Canadians experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression with a seasonal pattern. That’s why it’s important to provide information resources that explain what SAD and the winter blues are, and they can be managed. Contact the Canadian Mental Health Association to learn more about the education, workshops and tools available.
What’s Your Strategy?
How do you combat the winter blues? Share your tips in the comment section below!
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