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Supporting employee wellness in the winter months

Winter can be hard. Here's how to help.

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As we approach the holiday period, most are preparing for a season of fun, festivities, and catching up with friends and family. But the winter months can also be a dark and lonely time for many. It is important, when managing a workforce, to be cognisant of your staff members’ various circumstances – and set in place support for those who may find this time challenging.

Here are some key things to consider, when supporting your staff in the winter months.

People celebrate differently

While it is likely that the festive season will be acknowledged by your workplace - with Christmas decorations in the office, Christmas-themed content and/or products being produced, and/or holiday events taking place - it is important to remember that not everyone celebrates the same holidays.

Be mindful about what language you use. Try to incorporate more general winter and holiday-related themes and language, to ensure that everyone feels included and comfortable. If you have staff members who celebrate different traditions, be sure to acknowledge this in the workplace and recognise these holidays as equally important.

It’s not the most wonderful time of the year for everybody…

As the days get darker earlier (for those of us in the Northern hemisphere), and the temperature drops, this can negatively impact your employees. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects up to 3% of the general population.

So, ensuring your office gets lots of natural light during daylight hours, investing in SAD lamps, and promoting a healthy lifestyle with activities such as lunchtime walks, are some ways in which you can support your staff.

For those who have experienced loss or difficulties in their personal life, the holiday season can be a painful time, during which people can feel low. Ensuring that your employees have access to mental health support and time throughout the day - to take regular breaks for headspace, meditation, or whatever form of self-care works for them - is a good way to show practical support.

Connection is key

Almost one in four adults struggle with loneliness, and feelings of isolation can be exacerbated during the festive season and into the new year as winter continues. It is, therefore, crucial to ensure that no one on your team feels left behind.

Organising workplace events and activities, during the winter months, can help your employees to feel connected. Get your team together and see what sort of activities would suit them! A pre-work or lunchtime walking club, a weekly post-work bite to eat, or office book club are all ways to keep your team feeling connected.

If you have remote workers, it is, perhaps, even more important to make sure that they are included and supported at this time of year. Linking them in virtually on meetings, including them in activities like a book club or Secret Santa, and making sure you speak by phone or via video conferencing like Zoom or Teams every day, can ensure that they feel valued and comfortable.

Chris Williams, Global People & Culture Director at Mauve Group, has this message for employers:

“As I know personally, winter can be a really hard time. With the cold and darker evenings - depending where you are, of course - some of your employees may be struggling with feelings of loneliness, especially if they are remote working; additional stress with Christmas approaching; or dealing with things like Seasonal Affective Disorder.

The festive season is a very busy time for everyone. But it’s important to make time to ensure your team members are getting the support they need and know that they can ask for help, if needed.”

When planning out how to support your team this winter, if you’re looking to support your remote teams, Mauve’s global HR experts can help. Contact our team today.