The cold weather and dark days of winter, paired with the typical post-holiday slump, can wreak havoc on a company's workforce morale and productivity. With some employees feeling ill and others feeling down or disengaged, it's crucial to take immediate steps to liven up their mood if you want to pull through winter and retain or even grow your bottom line.
Below, seven entrepreneurs share their best tips on how to boost employee morale and keep productivity and engagement up during the cold and dark months of winter.
Create a warm, welcoming office.
A key aspect of keeping your employees' morale up is making sure your workplace is a warm, welcoming space that provides shelter from the ugly weather outside, especially in a place with harsh winters.
"In my experience, it's the small touches that count, like providing hot drinks and meals, organizing office socials and generally making the office a warm, pleasant place to be," says Ismael Wrixen, CEO of NYC-headquartered FE International. "Do it right and you may increase productivity during those cold, dark winter months," he adds.
Do out-of-office Fridays.
Kristin Kimberly Marquet, founder and creative director of Creative Development Agency, LLC, has experience with the "cold, dark and dreary" New York winters, as her business is also headquartered there. Marquet's solution to combat workforce winter blues is to implement a more flexible schedule.
"I let everyone work remotely on Fridays to help lift team spirits. We also close our office from mid-December until after the new year so our team can spend the holiday season with family/friends or traveling," she says.
Prioritize employee health.
"The biggest danger with wintertime is seasonal affective disorder, or SAD for short. To help prevent this from occurring among my team members, I prioritize their health," explains Bryce Welker, CEO of CPA Exam Guy.
Welker ensures that "the break room is always stocked with vitamin D supplements and fresh fruit" and offers to sponsor team members' gym memberships if they want to stay active.
Organize parties and giveaways.
Another great way to boost employee morale is to make the winter months fun with team-building office parties and giveaways. Says ABN Circle CEO Fritz Colcol: "I mean, who doesn't like free food, drinks and money giveaways?"
One giveaway game Colcol particularly loves is a money raffle. "My employees randomly pick a number and then get an envelope that matches the number they've chosen. The prizes range from $1 to a $100 bill," he explains.
Hold side challenges with team members.
"Every week we have a new challenge that stretches the team to think from a new perspective. This helps give them energy and enthusiasm," says Sweta Patel, founder of Silicon Valley Startup Marketing.
According to Patel, "it can be tough to want to do anything, but when you are challenged to give back or to do something beyond yourself, your focus changes." Patel's team decides on the challenge they want to take, with typically two or three ideas to pick from every week.
Organize summer activities.
Michael Hsu, founder and CEO of DeepSky, puts another spin on team activities: "Poke fun at winter with summer activities either in the office or outside of it. For example, have an indoor tiki pool party on a Friday afternoon."
Also, it's a good idea to remind employees that their drained spirits might not be imagined and they may actually need more vitamin D in their diet, Hsu underlines. "Have a breakfast party with cereal and milk and boiled eggs. Showing concern will encourage employees to fend off the winter woes," he says.
Spend more time together than remotely.
The cold, dark months of winter can also have a positive impact on your business, in that they may help strengthen the bonds between your team members, thinks Peter Daisyme, co-founder of Hostt.
"We switch off locations and work together more, setting up shop at one remote employee's house or finding a co-working space," he explains. "Having more time together in person helps with the cold and darkness because no one notices the weather when they are interacting with one another."