Low morale is very common in the winter months. This can lead to a dysfunctional team, a drop in productivity and an uncomfortable workplace. Here are a few tactics to keep the office happy and motivated during this difficult time of year.
1. Lighten Up
The dark mornings and early evenings of the winter months can have a huge effect on morale. If the light in the office is gloomy, the staff will be gloomy too. Open the blinds to let the sunlight in or, if there is no sunlight, turn on the lights. You could also spruce up your workplace with some bright pictures or potted plants. Opening a window will get some fresh air moving through the office to stop people feeling sluggish at their desks.
2. Get Moving
People can feel trapped by the weather at this time of year. There’s not much of an incentive to exercise if it’s pouring with rain and freezing outside. Despite the best intentions and the sincerest of New Year’s Resolutions, fitness levels often drop in the early part of the year. This filters through to the work environment and results in poor motivation. Do what you can to encourage exercise among your work colleagues – maybe even buddying up to offer a winter support network. Is there a massage therapist or yoga instructor that could come into the office and provide sessions for the staff? What healthy eating options are available?
3. Be Flexible
When people feel stuck in a routine, you might need to switch the schedule around to freshen things up. Can you offer flexible working hours to avoid the boredom and frustration of sitting in rush hour traffic? Will your timetable allow people to vary their hours – working early so they can leave early or visa versa? If possible, look into the option of letting staff work remotely if they want to. This helps to reduce absences and a study by Stanford University showed that working from home can lead to a 13% increase in performance.
4. Provide Incentives
Christmas provides plenty of good cheer and fun. There’s the build up to the day itself, the break from work and, of course, the office party! In comparison, January and February seem particularly bleak with seemingly endless weeks stretching out until the spring. Financial incentives are a good way of beating the January blues (especially for those who’ve overspent during the festive season) but there are plenty of smaller things you can do to brighten up the atmosphere of the workplace too. Organise something a little out of the ordinary, even if it’s as simple as bringing in cakes or going out for a team lunch at regular times. You might even like to arrange another party or social event to give people something to look forward to in these difficult winter months.
5. Be Positive
You can have a huge impact on the people around you just by having a positive attitude and behaving in an upbeat way. The smallest gesture can have a big effect. A smile or a few friendly words – even a simple thank you for a job well done will help your colleagues to feel appreciated in their work. The start of the year is a common time to have staff appraisals and this is a great opportunity to remind people of their successes and let them know that they’re valued. Focus them on the year ahead by setting clear goals and objectives so they’re looking to the future rather than dwelling on the present. Communication is also vital so keep everyone up to date with business related news and make it easy for them to approach you with any problems or challenges that they might be facing.
If you have any other tips or advice to help keep staff motivated through the winter, please let us know – we’d love to hear about them.