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10 tips to Help Your Employees Beat the “Winter Blues”
Are your employees lethargic, unable to concentrate, and unmotivated? Before you start writing off your team’s performance, consider this: According to the Cleveland Clinic, up to 20% of the population may suffer from the “winter blues”, precipitated by lack of daylight, cold temperatures, and treacherous weather conditions.
Some signs of the “winter blues” include fatigue, an inability to concentrate and even depression. These feelings can make it particularly difficult for employees to remain motivated and can lead to a significant decrease in performance and mental energy, as well as an increase in frustration, absenteeism and even turnover.
But there are some ways that employers can help keep productivity afloat amid the winter doldrums – and throughout the rest of the year. By providing employees with increased challenges, offering training and development opportunities, and recognizing and rewarding your staff you’ll likely see an increase in motivation as well as productivity.
Below are 10 tips for increasing employee productivity during the winter months:
Challenge your employees. Lack of challenge can be de-motivating and will likely leave your employees disinterested. Challenge your staff and you’re bound to see an increase in motivation as well as overall satisfaction. While a little challenge is a good thing, too much can have the reverse effect. As such, it is important to evaluate each employee’s individual capabilities whenever assigning job responsibilities.
Develop your employees. Today’s workforce is seeking to develop themselves. By providing that opportunity to your employees, through increased challenges and career growth, it supplies them with the satisfaction and stability they are seeking. In addition to honing employees’ skills through traditional training and development initiatives, employers should also look to facilitate employees’ professional development, whether its through college courses, seminars, conferences, a membership in a professional organization, or even cross-training for career moves within your company.
Cross-train. Cross-training not only prepares the company to continue “business as usual” when key employees are out sick or when emergencies arise, but it also benefits your employees. With the satisfaction that comes from increased responsibility, employee morale is often boosted and employee skills are enhanced.
Recognize. Simple forms of recognition such as praise, “thank you” notes, and the like show employees you appreciate their dedication and hard work. Gestures such as these can help fuel employee productivity even during the typical winter lag.
Reward. Not only is it important to recognize outstanding performance, but it is also important to reward it. Consider giving employees a few days off after completing a particularly stressful project, especially one they pulled off exceptionally well. This type of reward will benefit both you and the employee by preventing burnout, exhaustion, and frustration.
Seek employee input. When employees have a part in what goes on within the company, they typically have a greater sense of ownership and pride in the work that they do. As such, it is important to ask for your employees’ opinions regularly. This may include asking what types of perks they’d appreciate having, what sort of things could be done in order for them to be able to work more effectively, or ideas for new products or services. Just knowing their opinion matters is a strong motivator for many employees.
Set an example. You can’t expect employees to give 110% if your managers aren’t. Managers are role models and have a strong impact on employee performance and productivity. Show your dedication and employees will likely follow.
Support. Managers should continually work to set goals and provide employees with the tools and resources they need in order to succeed. After all, that’s what managers are for. They are there to offer guidance, support and direction. Train your managers to be supportive and you’ll likely see an increase in goal attainment and overall satisfaction.
Health and wellness initiatives. Give employees the energy they need in order to sustain motivation by encouraging and supporting healthy lifestyles. Employees who take part in wellness programs are less likely to take sick days and are more alert and focused during the workday. So, what can you do to help? Consider organizing “walking groups” during the lunch hour, encourage healthy eating by providing healthy options in cafeterias and breakrooms, or consider having a guest speaker come in and discuss health and wellness issues.
Have fun! Work doesn’t always have to be, well, work. Make the work environment fun by encouraging teamwork and fostering relationships amongst co-workers. Consider weekly luncheons, theme days, or competitive games focused around completing work projects. And don’t forget to divvy up the stodgy work so it doesn’t always fall on one employee’s shoulders. By creating an enjoyable place to be, your employees will want to get out of bed in the morning and come to work.
The takeaway: The winter months are often cold and dreary, zapping your employees’ motivation. Rather than letting the winter blues get the better of your workforce, take a few proactive steps to ensure employees are happy and productive this winter season and beyond.