Don’t fall victim to the winter blues

The winter months are known for employee engagement challenges, due in no small part to shorter days, cold and flu, and more time inside.

As we head into winter 2012, workplace consultancy experts have reminded HR to consider how that pesky cold chill in the air can wreak havoc on employee motivation, engagement, and productivity – now is the time to energise your team and help them come to work with a spring in their step.

During winter people tend to spend more time indoors, get less exercise and see less of their friends – all in all, a recipe for disengagement at work. “Energising your employees during cooler months can be challenging [and] the weather can really take a toll on employee motivation,” Ben Thompson from HR consultancy EI said.

The cold season is a very real factor for HR to consider, and now is the time to heighten engagement efforts. According to EI, the following tips are practical reminders of what HR should be doing to mitigate the gloomy effects of shorter days and arctic chills:

  • Is your workplace comfortable? Small adjustment to your lighting scheme can banish the overhead fluorescent glare. Ensure needless frustrations such as a chilly office temperature are eliminated.
  • Additional recognition and perks: If there is a special occasion such as a birthday, wedding or birth, why not buy a round of coffees for the morning shift, or organise 5-minute massages for everyone in the office? Don’t underestimate that these little perks help put smiles on faces.
  • Encourage work breaks. Don’t allow employees to go stir crazy – if you’ve got stubborn workaholics in your office, consider putting out some treats in the office kitchen and call everyone over for a snack. It’ll get people interacting with their co-workers, and give everyone a much deserved break.
  • Are employees actually having fun? Why not introduce quarterly themes to the organisation and reward staff with team building exercises? It could range from a week-long competition to an all-day off-site activity and will encourage non-work related conversations between colleagues. The social environment at work is a big contributor to burnout; the demeanor of senior management can directly affect staff, as workers read the mood of the boss for clues about performance and job security.

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