Most staff will be waking up to dark mornings and leaving the office in the dark. It’s cold and rainy, so commutes are even more miserable and there’s less to do during leisure time outside of the office. Christmas is only a few weeks away and some may be stressed with the cost and organisation associated with it. And to top it all off, it’s cold and flu season.
So, what can be done to lift spirits and make sure that staff well-being is cared for over the winter months?
Provide healthy snacks
This is important in keeping people alert and productive and stopping the afternoon slump. Comfort eating is common at this time of year and usually there’s no shortage of sugary snacks on offer in the lead up to Christmas.
Fruit is ideal for getting a sweet hit and vitamins all in one. Iron rich foods are also great for providing energy and keeping people alert. Sugary and caffeinated drinks should be kept to a minimum, so consider stocking up on herbal teas or naturally flavoured water.
Holding walking meetings, taking the stairs and getting outside on breaks (if it isn’t too cold or wet) are great ways to incorporate movement into the working day. Moving helps to keep you alert and productive, as well as stimulating the release of endorphins to keep spirits up. You could also consider putting together a “deskercise” information sheet with instructions on how to keep active whilst working at a desk.
Encourage short breaks
Following on from the previous point about keeping active, encouraging staff to take a few minutes break in between tasks is a great way to keep people focused. A few minutes every hour to take the eyes away from a screen and allow the brain to relax a little also helps to keep stress levels down and generally help people to feel less pressured.
Keep the blinds open, even when it’s cloudy as any natural light is beneficial. Consider investing in lighting that more closely mimics natural daylight. This is important for keeping the body clock on track and keeping us refreshed and productive despite the cold and dark outside.
Educate staff on the importance of vitamin D
In the winter, there is less sunlight available which means our Vitamin D levels will naturally decrease. This can lead to a more deflated mood and further exaggerate any existing aches and pains. Good quality vitamin D supplements are easily available over the counter and can easily help to restore any depleted levels.
Offer help and support
Set up exercise or well-being workshops throughout each month or offer access to mental health support – this could be as simple as making staff aware about the type of help that is available and local places they can go to receive support or further information.
Consider offering physical health checks to staff to make sure their basic health is looked after. You could also set up awareness classes around smoking and drinking as these habits are generally increased around this time of year and are often popular new year’s resolutions which are rarely followed through without the right support and awareness. Also, stress the importance of people going to have their flu jab, and perhaps offer it free of charge to employees.
Organise a few fun activities throughout the winter
Keep morale high and invest in a few fun days out or evening social gatherings throughout the winter months. Generally people tend to hibernate at this time of year, once the Christmas party season is over. This can affect well-being, their performance at work and team morale. Get staff involved with organising something they would all like to do together, and help them to fund a few activities.