Whilst the run up to the festive season can be an exciting time, employers must recognise the winter months can be challenging for some employees. The shorter days, darker nights and colder temperatures can all impact your team’s wellbeing. During the winter months many employees experience lower moods and energy levels.
An analysis of Google search data has revealed UK employees are turning to Google for winter wellness tips following the change in seasons:
- 420% increase in Google searches for ‘winter wellness’
- 300% increase in Google searches for ‘work life balance and mental health’
- 100% increase in Google searches for ‘mental health top tips’
- 80% increase in Google searches for ‘workplace wellness programs’
Naomi Humber, Head of Mental Wellbeing at Bupa UK explains, from making sure your team are working in the right environment to organising festive events there are lots of ways you can boost your team’s mood this winter to help them be at their best.
Encourage your team to make the most of the daylight
The lack of daylight hours in the winter can affect your mood, so try to make the most of them and get outside when you can. Even on a cloudy day, getting outside will help your body to get the light it’s craving.
As a manager, you can encourage your team to wrap up warm and get outside for a morning or lunchtime walk to help boost their mood. Why not lead by example and set aside 30 minutes during your day to head outdoors?
Check they’re working in the right environment
Bright working environments can help alleviate some symptoms of mild depression and SAD (seasonal affective disorder) in the winter months. Try to make the most of natural light in the office and keep the space well-lit with bright lights when needed.
If your team are working home encourage them to let in as much sunlight into their working environment as they can. For example, open any curtains or blinds and sit by a window.
If you’re able to provide workspace equipment such as laptop risers, ergonomic chairs, or desks available to your employees through your business make sure your team are aware of these benefits. This will ensure your team have the correct desk setup and their posture is supported to avoid aches and pains when working from home.
For some employees, a SAD lamp can also help. These are plug-in lights which mimic the sun and are thought to boost levels of serotonin and melanin.
Evidence around light-therapy is still not 100% conclusive, but it does look as though it can deliver positive short-term effects ‘ so it could help your team look after themselves until the days start getting longer again.
Support your team’s mental wellbeing
As a manager, make sure your team know that you’re available to chat to if they feel as though they may need some help or advice. It can feel a huge relief to open up about how you’re feeling.
Try to set aside team every week to catch-up with your team on an individual basis ‘ even if you’re busy. Similarly, if your team are struggling with their mental health this winter, make them aware of any support available to them. Whether this is pointing them in the right direction to find wellbeing resources, such as mindfulness techniques. Or access to health services such as doctors’ appointments and employee assistance programmes (EAP).
Promote regular exercise
While exercise might not seem so appealing when it’s cold outside, it can actually have a huge impact on our mental health. Regular exercise increases levels of endorphins – the so-called ‘happy’ hormone ‘ leaving you feeling positive.
Exercise doesn’t need to be long or strenuous either. You could suggest organising a lunchtime running or walking club or even after work exercise such as yoga to help everyone get some movement and wind down after a long day.
Enjoy festive events as a team
The winter brings lots of seasonal activities to enjoy, such as ice skating, Christmas markets and, of course, Christmas parties. Organising seasonal events for your team to enjoy together can help to boost motivation and lift spirits during the winter months.
Getting creative with Christmas crafts, like bauble decorating, is also a great way to enjoy the festive season as a team and can break up the working day with a fun team-building activity.
Share positive feedback
Encouraging your team with positive feedback is a great way to help boost their self-esteem and motivation. Reflecting on achievements over the past year as well as goals for the future will ensure your employees are engaged and feel supported over the winter months.
Encourage a work-life balance
A healthy work-life balance can have a positive impact on employee wellbeing. Encouraging your team to find a work-life balance that allows them to switch off after work and relax can help to beat the winter blues.
Provide the right snacks
Don’t underestimate the power of eating healthily ‘ it may boost your mood, give you an energy boost and help you think more clearly.
While it might be tempting to buy the team sweet treats like donuts, it’s important to remember that they should be a treat, rather than a regular occurrence. Instead, providing healthier snacks like fruit, nuts and seeds can help people keep a clear mind.
Likewise, if your workplace has a canteen, look to offer healthy lunch options and snacks to help your team eat a balanced diet whilst working.
Start with creativity
When it comes to boosting your team’s mood, get creative ‘ sometimes the simplest things can help brighten someone’s day. For example, you could take some time to celebrate your favourite things about winter together. Make sure to ask your team to suggest their own ideas for boosting team spirits.