SmartCompany: How to help employees beat the winter blues - Michelle Gibbings

Michelle recently wrote an article featured on the SmartCompany website talking about how leaders can help their team beat the winter blues.

A range of studies have found the weather impacts how we feel, think and act, so in the winter months when it’s darker, wetter and more gloomy, it can be easy for motivation levels to drop at work too.

Keeping motivation levels high in the workplace doesn’t happen by accident. It involves deliberate, focused and frequent steps to keep people engaged at work.

If you feel like your team’s motivation levels are feeling a little low this winter, here are five ideas to help kick-start the motivation engine.

1. Hold daily stand-up meetings

At the start of each day, get each member of the team to set clear intentions on what they want to achieve during the day. Get them to write down their commitment and share it with the team. 

When it’s written down it is harder to ignore the task, and when intentions are spoken out loud and committed to publicly the person is far more likely to see the task through to completion.  

2. Shift the environment

Our environment has a huge impact on how we work, so if your team’s mojo is lacking, look at how you can shake up the environment. This may be having days where you work in a different space for all or part of the day. Use the change to disrupt your normal pattern of behaviour and you may find inspiration hits. 

Do you play music in your office?

Music has long been known to impact how we feel, and there’s lots of research that looks at how it impacts our motivation to exercise. 

An article in Scientific American reads: “Music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort and may even promote metabolic efficiency. When listening to music, people run farther, bike longer and swim faster than usual — often without realizing it.”

So just as music motivates people to exercise, it can motivate them to work too.

3. Promote healthy activities

We all know exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make us feel good about ourselves, and when we feel good it is easy to get started on things that matter to us.

Encourage your team members to go for a walk at lunchtime or to the gym. Look at options of offering yoga classes at the start or end of the day.  

4. Talk about motivation

We have this curious notion that motivation somehow appears. It doesn’t. It comes from starting. Talk to your team about what motivates them at work. Share tips and techniques on how to get motivated.

For example, a key technique is to just start. When you don’t want to do something, just sit down and start whatever it is you need to start. Yes, this takes discipline, and so it can help to have a mini-goal.  You can say to yourself: ‘I’ll work on this for 15 minutes, and after that, I can have a cup of coffee.’ What’s interesting is by the 15-minute mark, you’ll likely keep going to get the task finished.

As well, research shows making progress is a huge factor in keeping people at work motivated. Monitor how you and your team are progressing and keep the results visible so it is easier to see the progress that is being made. When you and your team are working on a big project, you will be motivated when you see that your every-day daily efforts are helping you get closer to your goal.  

5. Get connected

Connections at work matter. People in your team want to feel like they belong. Set aside regular times during the winter months for social engagements and opportunities where the team can share, laugh and connect with each other.

Maintaining strong connections with work colleagues, by sharing how you feel, talking to people and being open about experiences, is critical for your health and wellbeing. When the team connects it creates positive energy, which aids motivation. 

To finish with the words of author Victor Hugo: “Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face.”