Beating the Winter Blues: 5 ways to motivate your team

Date: February 8, 2023
Winter blues

This time of year can be hard work, can’t it? It’s cold. It’s wet. It feels perennially dark. And the last of the Christmas chocolate has long since run out. With spring feeling like some kind of far-distant fantasy, it’s perhaps no wonder that some of us are suffering from the winter blues.

The good news if you’re feeling a little down at the moment, is that you aren't alone. According to researchers millions of people across North America struggle at this time of year, with symptoms ranging from low energy levels to full-blown depression. It’s not just our mental health that’s impacted as the temperatures plummet either, our productivity is too. And that’s the last thing you want when you’re trying to get the year off to a positive start. 

So if you sense that your team is suffering from the winter blues, what can you do to inject a little bit of life back into the office? Here are a few suggestions to help tackle the seasonal slump and boost employee motivation. 

1.  It’s good to talk

If this sounds simple, it’s because it is. But one of the easiest things you can do to tackle the winter blues is to simply talk about it. Bring it up in your team meetings, share your own experience via email, drop it into conversation while you’re in the break room. However you choose to share, the simple act of talking about the seasonal struggles helps to normalize them, encouraging your people to support each other in the process. This also helps to infuse the whole person mindset into your work culture. It’s important to remember that your employees are people too, and their challenges and struggles don’t just leave when they log onto work. If you are setting the tone in your workplace that transparency and support is offered, employees will more likely be open to go to their managers to discuss things that may be stopping them from doing their best work. 

Download your copy of The Future of Employee Experience: A Playbook for Supporting the Whole Human

2. Be flexible

One of the biggest reasons why people feel so down during the winter is the lack of sunshine. Things like brain activity and hormone production are directly impacted by the lack of sunlight. In fact, we’ve been genetically conditioned over the millennia to preserve energy at this time of year. So if you wake up on a cold dark morning and don't want to get out of bed, it’s not because you’re lazy, it’s because your ancient ancestors evolved like that so they wouldn’t burn as many calories.

Unfortunately, as employers, we can't undo thousands of years of human evolution (yet). But we can make a few simple changes to combat the worst effects of the winter blues and increase employee motivation. Flexible working is a really good place to start. Flexible hours mean that your employees aren't chained to their desks all day and can instead get out to make the most of the sunshine on those rare occasions that it actually makes an appearance. 

It’s a small change that makes a big difference to people’s productivity. It also shows your team that you care about them, an investment that will pay dividends not just in the winter months but throughout the entire year. 

employee motivation

3. Unlock the power of recognition and rewards

Happiness is the # 1 antidote to feelings of stress, exhaustion and depression. So if you’re looking for ways to keep your people motivated at this time of year, an employee recognition program should be high up on your agenda. 

The million-dollar question, of course, is what makes people happy? That’s where employee appreciation comes in. Recognition is a basic human need, one which our brains are hardwired to respond to, just as they’re hardwired to respond to the changing seasons. 

We don't want to bore you with the science here, but the bottom line for businesses is that employee recognition and rewards result in higher levels of motivation, engagement and productivity. That’s a whole lot of positives from something that’s relatively simple to set up, especially if you use the help of a dedicated recognition and rewards platform like Bucketlist. 

employee motivation

4. Challenge your people 

Nothing sharpens the mind quite like a little bit of friendly competition. So if you’re looking to find ways to motivate your people during these bleak winter months then a challenge might be just what they need. 

Here at Bucketlist, our marketing team is currently working towards one of their Q1 goals, and to help keep them on track they've turned it into a little competition. If they hit their targets, they get rewarded with a month of free coffee. ☕️ Yup... you heard that right.

It’s a shared goal that puts a fun spin on things, and the prospect of all that sweet, sweet java has certainly kept their eyes on the prize. 

Employee motivation

5. Teamwork makes the dream work

The best way to tackle the winter blues is to do it as a team. Bringing your people together can boost employee engagement, building a sense of community and a shared purpose. The problem is, that at this time of year, it’s easy to become isolated. So why not shake things up with some team bonding? It could be a shared fitness challenge, a social evening, or something completely different. It doesn’t really matter how you choose to do it, the key is to gather your people together so that they can feel connected and a part of something! 

employee motivation

Banish the winter blues

Sadly we can't do anything to speed up the onset of spring. But hopefully some of the information you’ll find here will help you to keep your employees engaged and motivated until the warmer weather arrives. 

If you’re going to take one piece of information away from this blog, then it should be the power of recognition and rewards. We know how effective employee recognition can be because we’ve experienced it first-hand. It’s what drove us to create the number one Employee Rewards and Recognition Platform, so organizations across the globe can create programs that work for their business. 

If you’d like to find out more about how Bucketlist’s employee rewards and recognition app can help you build high-performing teams, contact us for a free demo

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