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Keeping your team motivated through the dark winter months

The winter blues will have hit most of us at some point in our lives

To get the best from their teams, employers need to be proactive in countering the effects of the winter months to maintain the level of productivity.

1. Get the environment right

While nothing can be done about the weather outside, keeping the office environment comfortable has a positive effect. A steady 21°C has been found to be the optimum temperature level for keeping as many of your team happy as possible.

Extra lighting and bright colours offsets the dullness of the winter weather, while effective window blinds block the glare of the low, winter sun.

Brain-stretching games such as chess or bingo will keep the brain-fog away and keep your team’s cognitive ability ticking over. Offer them healthy snacks in the afternoon to keep their energy levels charged.

2. Combat workplace boredom

Common beefs about the working environment can seem even more intolerable during the winter months. Factors such as career stagnation and dissatisfaction with hours, workload or pay can affect a team’s productivity, along with frustrations with management, imminent change, and office equipment.

Implement your team’s personal development plans to coincide with this period. Offer flexible working hours – this will be appreciated when bad weather affects the daily commute. Keep your team updated about how they will benefit if they meet targets, and offer incentives and recognition awards for good work.

Act to resolve any problems. Consult your employees on changes, seek their feedback, and keep them updated on any repairs to or replacement of equipment. Finally, lead by example – staying cheerful yourself will help to keep the blues away.

3. Eliminate annoying distractions

Research has shown that people are more irritable in the workplace in January. Trivial things, such as sniffing, noisy eating or talking too loudly, can be enough to drive team members to distraction.

Try to organise the workspace so that people eat in a designated area, and provide boxes of tissues in working areas.
Also reduce the number of meetings, which are known to be a significant source of annoyance.

4. Post-seasonal anxiety

Anxiety and stress can rise by around one-third after the Christmas period. Financial problems tend to hit at this time, with the longer-than-average gap between the December and January pay days coinciding with the need to settle the expenses of the holiday sales. This stress can put strain on personal relationships and physical wellbeing.

While you can’t solve your employees’ personal problems for them, you can offer them support in other ways; for example, one-to-one meetings or weekly retrospectives give team members a chance to raise issues.

If your budget runs to it, organise some relaxing activities, such as yoga on site or at nearby fitness centres. Also have some information packs available in the workplace from independent sources on subjects such as managing stress or debt.

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