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Don’t let the winter blues dampen work productivity

Employee health and wellbeing is of paramount importance throughout the year. However, employers should pay particular attention to the gloomy winter months when the days are colder and shorter, we have less energy, and our vitamin D levels dip.

The general feeling of the workforce can sometimes appear melancholy after over-indulging during the festive break, and with some also feeling the pinch of Christmas, it’s understandably a challenging time and easy for the January blues kick in. This can leave people feeling miserable about returning to work in the new year which in turn can impact on work productivity.

A recent survey conducted by Toughened Glass Systems has revealed the following key contributing factors which workers stated affected work productivity during the winter months.

  • Cold weather – 1 in 3 workers reported this was the main contributing factor for feeling unproductive during the winter months.
  • Lack of natural daylight – one fifth of workers reported the lack of natural daylight negatively impacts their ability to concentrate on work during winter months.
  • Increased illness – Just under 30% of workers reported that increased illness has an adverse effect on productivity during the winter months, when viruses such as colds and flu are widespread.

With Blue Monday just around the corner, here are some strategies to support employee wellbeing during the winter months to help combat the winter blues.

  • Encourage employees to make the most of natural light by taking small breaks outside. Stepping out into the fresh air and natural light will boost brain activity and help employees re-focus on the task in hand. Natural light not only increases productivity levels, it also good for mental health.
  • Make sure the workplace is bright. Keep blinds open and repair any broken lights. Consider replacing existing light bulbs with those that imitate natural light. Where possible, rearrange the workplace so employees have access to a nearby window to maximise their exposure to natural light.
  • Introduce plants or flowers in the workplace, not only can they be aesthetically pleasing they can also help aid relaxation and purify the air.
  • Team building activities are a great way to increase employee wellbeing and work productivity, and gives employees an opportunity to bond with colleagues, boosting morale in the process.
  • Help to ease any financial burden by introducing discount schemes such as workplace nursery benefits, shopping discounts, and salary sacrifice schemes.
  • Introduce an Employee Assistance Programme, or signpost employees to existing programmes, to support those who may be experiencing anxiety or stress. This will result in reduced short and long-term sickness absence.

The winter months can be a struggle for many people. Indeed, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects around 2 million people in the UK alone. Paying particular attention to employee wellbeing during the winter months will increase motivation and engagement, and result in a happier, more productive workforce.

If your organisation requires assistance in implementing a Wellbeing Strategy, or if you would like further information with regards to our Employee Wellbeing services or anything mentioned in this article, please contact us on 01942 727200 or email to find out how we can help.