Navigating Winter Blues in the Workplace: How To Keep Your Team Motivated
We are talking about the moans and groans coming from staff in offices across the country of feeling a bit tired, down, a general lack of motivation and having barely any energy. Its cold, its dark, people are getting ill and those few days of summer we had seem like a distant memory!!
Dramatic comments to one side there is some truth (or at least research would suggest) that with shorter days and winter approaching a change in the season does have an impact on peoples mental health and performance in the workplace.
In our previous blog on mental health awareness, we highlighted the importance of understanding and supporting one another through various challenges. So with the moans of winter blues ringing loudly in our ears we thought we would look at how the winter season influences the collective mood in the workplace, its effect on team motivation and even throw in some ideas on how to beat it.
So is there any truth behind the theory…..in fact there is. Statistics in the UK from the Mental Health Foundation suggest 1 in 15 people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD – a type of depression that becomes more severe in the winter), with symptoms including low mood, loss of interest and fatigue. On top of this three quarters of people felt under additional stress in the workplace during the winter months. When you combine these things with reduced daylight hours and colder weather they are proven to contribute to the overall issue of a lack of motivation and productivity in the workplace during the winter months.
So what can you do to help?
Unfortunately there isn’t a quick fix, short of sending your team off for some winter sun its about being aware of how people might be feeling and putting things in place that are proven to help.
There are plenty of suggestions flying around the internet on what you can do to help your team – for most companies these are completely impractical or expensive so we thought we would highlight the ones which cost nothing, are easy to implement in virtually any office and are statistically the most in demand suggestions to keep people motivated in the workplace.
90% wanted exposure to natural light
76% wanted access to quiet & private areas to work
75% wanted social & collaborative workspaces
Interestingly it’s worth noting that all the above were rated more important in supporting mental health and motivation during winter over the traditional tailored workplace benefits such as health insurance (62%) & gym memberships (58%).
With this research in mind & through our own experience of supporting our team we have compiled a short list which we think are the best ways to keep your team motivated through the winter months, ensuring productivity and team morale stays high.
Organising social events for the team gives something for everyone to look forward to. Spending time together as a team away from the day-to-day business tasks is important for team morale, it will help build on current relationships within the business but most importantly help create a fun and positive business culture for everyone to enjoy.
Natural Light Exposure:
Encourage employees to take advantage of natural daylight by moving workstations or scheduling breaks to coincide with brighter hours of the day. Research suggests exposure to natural light can improve mood and productivity.
Comfortable Office Environment:
Ensuring employees are comfortable in the office will contribute to their overall performance in the role. Make sure they have the right equipment but also ensure the office heating is working – cold offices were one of the biggest complaints in our research.
Flexible & Remote Working:
It’s a hot topic at the moment but if you aren’t already doing it consider flexible or remote work arrangements to help employees manage their time and environment more effectively. This can reduce the stress of commuting in darker, colder conditions.
Recognize & Celebrate Achievements:
Acknowledge and celebrate milestones and achievements reached by team members. This boosts morale and motivation, serving as a positive reinforcement tool during challenging times.
Encourage people to get away from their desks and be active, even if it’s just a short walk during breaks – Physical activity helps to release endorphins, boosting energy levels and improving overall mood.
The research shows that people do struggle more during the winter, but it also shows that with a pro-active approach from employers there is plenty that can be done to reduce the impact on employees.
By implementing some of the strategies above we can reduce the effects of the winter season on workplace mood and motivation. For business owners or managers creating an environment that acknowledges and supports the well-being of team members is not just a responsibility but a crucial investment in the success and happiness of the team.