Winter depression is real, but you can support your staff to fight it off.

The start of winter always brings challenges – the clocks going back, shorter days, miserable weather, flu season and post-holiday blues: they all combine to a drop in morale, fatigue and a consequent drop in energy. The winter blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) are not just a myth.

But this year, more than ever before, added pressures are conspiring to make people feel even more dispirited and dissatisfied. The spectre of war, rising inflation at home, energy worries, the death of the Queen, and Covid still causing problems will all affect people.

All these factors combine to feelings of depression, demotivation and isolation. As a business, you should be concerned for three key reasons:

  • PRODUCTIVITY: It is known that productivity decreases in winter and the stress affecting your staff may affect the end customer experience.
  • HEALTH: It is known that productivity decreases in winter and the stress affecting your staff may affect the end customer experience.
  • SAFETY: Affected staff are at greater risk of making errors of judgement which could lead to wider safety issues, particularly in high hazard environments.

To mitigate the effects of gloom and doom, it is worth trying to anticipate and proactively address these motivational pain points, before the effects kick in. It doesn’t need to cost much but implementing some of the following ideas to motivate and support your staff this winter will remind them that you are aware of and actively care for their wellbeing.

Challenge the gloom by keeping offices light and warm – ensure areas are amply lit, blinds are lifted, windows are kept shut at night, radiators are clear of obstruction and draughts are blocked.

Encourage Personal Motivation. Give your workers ideas of how to help themselves: Routine, building in fresh air breaks and exercise and eating healthily can all help to stave off the winter blues and improve fitness.

Motivate your employees. You don’t need to spend a lot on expensive coaches – small gestures can help. Staff discounts, agreements on home working, a round of coffees: all can re-ignite enthusiasm and improve loyalty and performance.

Build and sustain some excitement about goals by having clear KPIs and including elements of gamification such as rewards or other competitive elements.

Engage with your workers: An occasional team breakfast, lunch or drinks can encourage camaraderie and prevent staff isolation by helping them feel connected and appreciated.

Offer your workers contact with professional help if possible, showing them that you understand and care about the challenges they are facing.

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