How to Motivate Employees that Have the Winter Blues
Winter can be tough on many people. Science tells us that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, is very real. In fact, it affects 10 million people in the United States every winter. At work, it can impact everything from mood to productivity, relationships and more. Consequently, this or other factors, such as simply being stuck in old habits or routines that aren’t adding value can drag down the work atmosphere. No doubt, this is the last thing you want when you’re trying to kick off the year with a positive start. So if you sense the presence of winter blues among those you lead, commit to do something about it. By implementing strategies that grow engagement and boost morale, you can transform this season into a more motivating, inspiring one for all.
Here’s how to take on the winter doldrums and motivate your people mid-winter:
Get your people out of their ruts. What are people doing just because they’ve always done it that way? What are people thinking just because they’ve always thought about it that way, too? Have a discussion about this with your people or their team leaders. Ask why are things being done the same old way, particularly if those practices aren’t producing both results and excitement around those successes. What can be done to change this? Gather and work with your people to come up with some solid strategies and solutions so to create buy-in and boost your odds that these new directions will succeed once implemented.
Celebrate teamwork. During the winter months, when people are often cooped up inside and relationships may get tested more than usual, build in some activities to nurture, recognize or reward great teamwork. For example, a mid-winter planning retreat at a nearby hotel certainly gets people out of their routines (and their ruts). Here, you can do a more comprehensive performance review for your team/organization, hold some teamwork-building exercises and games, give awards, and communicate and plan amid a different environment for a change. Just the change itself—out of the office or company facility—can be inspiration alone.
Hold a competition. You’re likely striving toward goals all the time with the people or teams you lead. So consider upping the motivation for achievement and getting creative with some healthy competition. For example, if it’s a big sales goal you want to hit, maybe hold a “Winter Wins” incentive program, where you build in some fun winter-appropriate awards to celebrate benchmarks and successes along the way. Tap your imagination and have some fun! Pull people out of their winter blues, keep them focused on performance, and use healthy (not cut-throat!) competition to motivate people and maintain positive morale. (Tip: If you base the competition on the premise that it serves the greater good, not just individuals, you’ll be more likely to get people excited, on board, and working together for the collective win.)
What’s one easy way to get your people feeling more inspired and invigorated in the winter months?