Between the cold, the long hours of darkness, the snow, the shoveling and the slick driving, winter is the season most likely to negatively affect people’s moods. As a manager, CEO or human resources worker, it falls on you to keep employees motivated this winter. Think outside of the daily grind and encourage relaxation. Let everyone step away from their desks for activities that will help snap them out of the winter doldrums.
Hire a Motivational Speaker
The role of a motivational speaker is to demonstrate expertise, get people thinking and present new ways of approaching common activities. There are few things better suited to breaking up the dreariness of a winter day than a professional guest speaker. Choose a topic relevant to your business — teamwork, leadership, innovation or something more industry-specific, for example — and make the appointment for the speaker to present during work hours.
Send employees in shifts to hear the speaker for multiple sessions in small groups or shut down the business for a few hours and ask everyone to come as a company-wide team. Most speakers emphasize interactivity, asking the audience to participate in activities or pose questions throughout the session. Your employees will walk away refreshed with new ideas.
Hold a Hot Drink Party
Why only celebrate during the holidays? There are still three months of winter after the holidays are over. At least once a week, hold a hot drink party in the break room where you serve a variety of coffees and hot teas, as well as hot cocoa. Have the drinks available throughout the day for workers to visit at different times during their breaks, and encourage employees to get up from their desks, stretch their legs and warm up with a hot drink if they’re starting to get tired.
Workers who feel appreciated are more likely to continue to do well than workers who feel like they only receive negative feedback. In the dreary months of winter, make a point of celebrating successes. Make a hot drink toast to the salesperson who brought in a new account. Celebrate the assistant who stayed extra hours to organize a business lunch. Applaud the IT team who installed new software.
Don’t leave out the people with a failed project; celebrate the small successes even within failure. For example, if a new product launch didn’t get the early numbers your team expected, celebrate the phenomenal job the marketing team did trying to give the product a push or the job the development team did in thinking outside of the box in the first place. Stress that your employees should learn from mistakes but focus on successes. Let employees know they won’t be punished for taking educated risks, and they’re less likely to succumb to winter doldrums.
Experiment With Telecommuting
Part of what puts employees in a bad mood during the winter months is that they get up early each morning when the temperature is often at its coldest and spend those frigid hours shoveling their way out of snow, scraping ice off their cars and driving in freezing vehicles until their heat finally turns on. Snowy or icy roads are more dangerous than ever, and your employees are literally putting their lives on the line some days to get to work in the winter. If possible, experiment with allowing some employees to telecommute at least part of the week.
Employees will be in much more productive moods if they can stay cozy inside and sleep in a little because they don’t have to hit the road to start work on time. Not all positions are suited for working from home via the Internet and phone, but you might consider flexible work hours for other employees during the winter.
The Economist reports that 80 percent of American workers must work outside of business hours to finish all of the projects assigned to them. Workers just don’t get enough breaks, and that wears them down over time, decreasing their productivity. Combine working too much with dreary winter, and you have a recipe for company-wide disaster. Plan relaxation, entertainment, convenience and intellectual stimulation on a winter work day, and the break you take with your employees will pay off in better productivity when you get back to work.
About the Author: Nadine Carmona is a human resources manager at a Fortune 500 company who relies on Leading Authorities for business speaking needs at her company. Leading Authorities speakers bureau represents national motivational speakers with a variety of expertise.