Written by Danielle Smith • December 14, 2022
Cold. Dark. Frosty. Are we talking about the winter weather, or are we talking about your company’s morale? Keeping spirits high throughout the winter months can be challenging for many companies. When the end-of-year festivities can’t quite match the drudge of winter’s worst bits, you need to be creative and intentional with how you motivate yourself - and your colleagues.
If you’re looking for ways to keep your office wellbeing and morale high throughout the winter, consider some of these tips.
Sure, winter is the same length as the other seasons. But, it hardly ever feels the same length. To put a positive spin on a season that tends to feel like an eternity, make winter focused on promoting and maintaining wellbeing. There are many ways to do this with your team or company. Setting wellbeing as a time bound theme means empowering your colleagues to take care of themselves.
Winter brings with it many potential triggers for people. The cold weather might instigate a mental health condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD can cause a depressive episode (think: extreme fatigue, overwhelming feelings of sadness, social isolation) that’s related to a lack of Vitamin D, which comes from the sun. Winter is also a time filled with holidays, bringing people close together with family members that might be unsupportive - or even toxic. Many people struggle with celebrating the holidays with their families, leading to a low mood and even lower motivation for work.
Acknowledging that winter tends to be a difficult time of the year for many - and taking steps to combat its sunless reach - shows that your company values the health and mental health of its employees.
You can put on weekly wellness events like yoga or meditation sessions. You might also share positive psychology tips in your regular newsletters or at the start of your Monday morning stand-up. Any way to promote the idea of self-care can be a helpful way to refocus your colleague’s mindsets away from the winter dread and towards a season of intentionality.
Because Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a fairly pervasive condition, offer your company flexible work hours to accommodate its reach. If your team wants to start their day later, when it’s more light outside, give them the freedom to do so. There’s nothing harder than forcing yourself out of bed when you’re feeling exhausted, before the sun is up, to get on with your day.
Offering flexibility also shows that you understand the difficulties of winter and value your company’s overall wellbeing. The work will still get done, but it will give your team the space to complete the work when their energy levels are the highest.
Make good habits that last the rest of the year, starting on January 1. The start of a new year is a wonderful opportunity to create some New Year’s resolutions, whether they’re work-related or wellbeing-related. You might want to start taking meeting notes in a different way, but are waiting for the perfect time to begin. Or you might want to clear your inbox down to zero unread emails before the start of the New Year, and keep it that way. Whatever you think might be a good way for you to honor the turn of the calendar and start off on a good foot, make that your New Year’s resolution.
Encourage your colleagues to set New Year’s resolutions that are SMART. SMART goals are:
By setting SMART goals, you’re more likely to see progress - which in itself can be motivating.
One of the biggest energizers for a workplace is to bring people together. Human connection can lead to feelings of purpose, meaning, and joy. When you notice a slump in your colleague’s productivity, mood, even posture, consider taking time away from the computer screen and getting the group together. It doesn’t have to be anything formal and could simply be a cup of coffee or a short break for casual conversation.
However, if you wanted to bring people together in a formal way, consider hosting a celebratory event for the year’s achievements. Give praise to your team for their hard work or highlight individual strengths that people bring to the team. There are many reasons to celebrate! Setting up easily accessible gatherings for your team will stoke their sense of connection, which can help them feel more engaged in their work.
Lastly, remember that the cold belongs outside, not inside. Creating a cozy office can lead to employees feeling physically and emotionally comfortable, which will contrast the cold weather outside. It might even incentivize people to show up in the office, rather than working from home (and once again, human connection is important!).
Here are a few ways to make sure that your office is at maximum coziness:
Whichever way that you decide to boost morale throughout the winter months, your colleagues will appreciate it. By taking a challenging season and implementing several ways of making it easier, you’re putting people’s needs above their productivity so they can feel motivated to maintain their wellbeing year round.