Winter can be a tough time for many. It can be hard to leave that cosy warm bed to face a dark, cold morning. It’s also peak time for cold and flus to strike, affecting productivity and workplace morale.
Up to 59% of Australians cite winter as their least favourite season with more than 1 in 3 reporting that they feel the blues during the cooler months. Unlike the majority, I love winter. The clear crisp days and early evenings are perfect for enjoying delicious hot chocolate and spicy curries. Sometimes I even yearn for just a little snow! It’s a welcome contrast to summer with its relentless heat, steamy afternoon showers and long, long days that leave me feeling uncomfortable and tired.
Studies conducted in 2016 by a team of Belgian researchers indicates that our brains work differently across the seasons. According to their data, our brains become less efficient during winter, requiring a greater level of resources to complete tasks. In terms of brain activity, it’s more “costly” for your brain to perform tasks, making it seemingly more difficult to carry them out in winter than any other time of the year.
Previous research has also shown that moods, metabolism and immunity are impacted by the seasons, but this recent study shows that attention and memory may also have a seasonal impact.
Boosting employee motivation in the colder months
We’ve worked with leaders who have been aware of a difference in both themselves and their teams during winter, but couldn’t understand why. Being aware that physiological factors are different during the cooler months is the first step to helping beat the winter blues and increasing employee motivation and workplace productivity.
While there’s not much leaders can do about the weather, they can choose to recognise the real impact seasons can have on themselves and their employees. Some of the leaders we’ve worked with have embraced a range of techniques to create a more motivational environment in the workplace.
7 ways to boost productivity and morale
- Step into the sunshine – find a sunny spot outdoors to hold meetings and boost vitamin D.
- Host “fireside” morning teas – get away from desks and share a hot chocolate (or even better a minestrone soup) to feel cosy and connected.
- Practice mindfulness – be consciously present; practice nasal breathing to fully connect with one of your senses and focus your attention on one thing only.
- Set ambitious short-term goals (eg. 5 days) – give the entire team something to work towards that builds a sense of achievement for a boost to morale.
- Embrace the small wins – celebrate, recognise and express gratitude for the efforts and contribution of individual team members to bolster motivation and team spirit.
- Use a standing desk – burn more calories while standing to keep warm, increase activity and feel good.
- Eat well – order in healthy and delicious hot lunches to promote active minds and ward off mid-afternoon slumps.
What can you do to optimise workplace morale and productivity during this chilly, but delightful season? We’d love to hear your best tips for beating the winter blues.