Daylight Savings Time has officially ended, and here comes the winter blues! This doesn’t just apply to peoples’ overall moods. Think of the domino effect this starts. When people are down and depressed, their work suffers, productivity slows, etc. Employees are working through the entire day and missing all of the sunlight. They arrive at work before the sun rises, and they leave work after the sun sets. The last thing you want is for your employees to feel like they’re wasting their entire day at work. Let’s find out how to remedy the blues! First, we need to understand the effects that winter has on the brain.
Winter and The Brain
Winter lessens the amount of sunlight we receive. Sunlight improves mood by releasing serotonin in the brain. Serotonin improves mood, focus, calmness, and more. Extreme lack of sunlight can even lead to a form of clinical depression: Seasonal Affective Disorder. You definitely don’t want to be a factor influencing that.
There’s even more to the winter blues than just a lack of sunlight. The holidays tend to bring out their own difficulties and worries that aren’t present during the rest of the year. These problems can include financial worries about holiday expenses, family gatherings, less healthy eating habits, nostalgia, overscheduling, and more.
How to Beat the Blues
1. Create Winter-Specific Activities
There are a lot of great things about winter: the first snow, warm sweaters, ice skating, holidays, decorations, and more. Consider incorporating these into team activities. Build up that holiday excitement with special decorations and parties to look forward to. Consider also holding your retreats during this time of year. Plan strategy meetings at fun winter locations for part work and part play: ice skating rinks, ski houses, etc.
Put your winter-specific activities on calendars and posters in break rooms so that employees can be energized by thinking about all of the fun holiday activities coming up. If your employees have nothing to look forward to, the mundane daily routine will wear them down.
2. Require Breaks
Some employees will actually skip breaks to get more work done, especially in a commission or performance-based environment. You might applaud them for their productivity. Actually, their work will slow down without taking breaks. They’ll ultimate get less done than they would have if they had taken breaks. To remedy this, make break time mandatory. Your employees will be happier and more relaxed, and you’ll have the added bonus of increased productivity.
3. Provide Holiday Treats
Put special treats in kitchens and break rooms. Hot cocoa, special flavored coffee, and holiday cookies are great options. Avoid offering the same options every day or sticking to a schedule of what will be offered each day. Surprise and excite your employees so that they have something to look forward to when they arrive at work. This will energize them from the get-go.
4. Promote Health and Wellness
Exercise releases endorphins, which provide a sort of “high” that improves mood. It’s known to help with depression, and health professionals offer this advice to those who are clinically depressed. Promote wellness initiatives. These can include walking groups during lunch breaks, bringing in a guest health speaker, or offering healthy food options. Make sure to include vitamin D-rich snacks to counter attack the problem discussed above with a lack of sunlight. Obviously, healthy employees take less sick days, so this is a win-win.
5. Increase Sunlight and Nature
Pull up those blinds, and let the sunlight in! You might need to rearrange your workspace for maximum natural lighting through windows. Move anything blocking any windows. Consider offering light boxes in designated spaces (break rooms, phone booths, etc.). These provide artificial white light that acts like sunlight, and they are known to help with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Add some plants while you’re at it. Plants are known to clean the air, reduce stress, and increase productivity. Even more so, plants are little pieces of the outside world that can keep employees from feeling cooped up all day.
Hopefully you care about your employees, so show them. Employees who trust their employers produce better work and are more likely to stay with your company. Help them beat the winter blues.
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