As winter arrives in full force, colder, shorter days can make moods low and motivation sparse.
Whether you’re an HR leader experiencing the effects of winter or trying to keep productivity up for your employees, it’s essential to up your winter wellness efforts to make sure motivation and productivity don’t fall short during the colder months.
Here are three steps to ensure that your workforce doesn’t get pulled down by the harsh winter months.
Step 1: Identify employee needs
It can be easy to assume that all employees struggling during the winter are experiencing the same issues and symptoms.
It may be easy to think that all employees who seem down around this time of year are just stressed from holiday planning and a lack of Vitamin D from shorter days. However, the winter months come with a host of stressors and changes that can contribute to a decline in employee well-being.
For example, employees could be experiencing:
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- End-of-year burnout
- Chronic illness flare-ups caused by changing seasons, or
- Grief and loss around the holidays.
All of these issues need different types of assistance and resources, so it’s important to find the root of the problem before coming up with a solution. However, it’s not reasonable to assume that all employees will be forthcoming with what they’re dealing with, or that they know what’s detracting from their well-being at all.
A better approach may be to send out an optional, anonymous survey or questionnaire for employees to rate their well-being and symptoms they may be experiencing, such as a lack of motivation, loss of interest in activities or sleeping troubles. That way, you can come up with a winter wellness strategy to address the most prevalent issues.
Step 2: Find and share wellness resources for employees
Once you know what your employees are experiencing, it can be easier to find the best winter wellness resources and ideas to help them improve their well-being.
General education resources for employees on taking care of their mental health can not only help employees become more aware of their habits and behaviors; it’s also a great starting point for an open conversation about mental health to reduce stigma.
You can also use an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to provide employees with resources such as financial help and counseling.
A winter wellness strategy can also include additional company benefits that focus on mental health, such as psychiatric care or providing an extra PTO day or two for employees to take a mental health day.
Step 3: Implement and model lasting workplace changes
Although providing employees with the tools they need outside of work is a great start to a winter wellness strategy, it’s also important to make changes within the workplace to help employees build good habits, improve well-being and increase productivity.
Depending on what employees are struggling with, here are a few ways to help cultivate a healthy workplace that builds up well-being instead of bringing it down.
Isolation: Set up optional after-work events such as a happy hour or have managers designate time for social bookends at the beginning of meetings. You can also help employees set up an Employee Resource Group (ERG) for common issues, such as grief or general mental health.
Loss of motivation: Promote productivity by adopting flexible scheduling for employees to work during the hours they feel the most productive and giving them time to get some fresh air and sunshine on winter days.
Seasonal depression: If employees are experiencing mental health symptoms, encourage them to seek professional help. You can also set up more lights around the office and invest in therapy lamps. Adding more greenery and plants around the office may also help employees who struggle with seasonal depression.