6 powerful ways to motivate employees and beat the winter blues

25 January 2018

Getting back into the swing of things can be tough. Whether you’re shaking off the last of the Christmas spirit or you’re knee deep in January’s grim weather, the winter blues can get the best of us, making work a bit of an uphill struggle.

Productivity and mood can take a dip, terrible news for managers looking to motivate their team and maintain high performance levels.

You may need to call upon a few tricks and tactics to motivate your team through the depths of winter, so we have compiled advice from a few industry experts to help you keep spirits high and performance at its peak.

Socialise with friends

The short, sharp shock of your Monday morning alarm clock can make dragging yourself out of bed incredibly difficult, especially when you’re nice and toasty and it’s cold outside. Sandie Maylor, Head of Consumer Lifestyle at Cherish PR paints a familiar scene: “The first few months of the year can be a bit of a challenge to get through, as festive fun is replaced with the cold, stark reality of a hectic work schedule and tight budget. Cold weather and dark mornings and evenings don’t help much either!"

businesspeople socialising at event

The change in your schedule can be a swift one, so to counteract the blues, she recommends brightening things up by socialising as much as you can: “If you’ve spent time with family but usually live alone, try to see friends to keep a sense of belonging and community. If money is tight after the festive season, take a plate and get together. A meal shared can be just the antidote to sitting alone feeling gloomy and it’s likely others will be in the same boat.”

This year, why not incorporate team breakfasts once a week? Bring in pastries and delicious breakfast items on Monday mornings to help bring the team together, and give them added incentive.

Invest in a learning management system

If some members of the team feel like they’re in a rut, giving them something to drive towards in the workplace can be a great motivational tool. Chieu Cao, CMO and co-founder of employee benefits platform Perkbox suggests investing in creating opportunities for them.

“Invest a small percentage of your fresh budget in a learning management system (LMS). Our research shows that 32% of employees resent the lack of career development opportunities on offer.

colleagues laugh team meeting

“An LMS will give your employees access to tonnes of on-demand and real-time training schemes. Not only will the business benefit from upskilling its staff, but employees will also appreciate the development opportunity. However, make sure you allow people to free up a few hours a week to use the material – it’ll be a welcome change!”

Set realistic goals

With a new year comes another 12 months to try new things, improve your existing skills and achieve the goals you perhaps set in 2017 but just missed out on. Sandie says: “If the year before wasn’t a great one, position 2018 as the start of a brand-new chapter. Write down what you would like your year to look like and set manageable goals to achieve it. It’s time to look forward and ditch any unhappiness or bad luck associated with the past.”

As a manager or team leader, it’s your responsibility to ensure your team’s goals are realistic and inspirational. Too difficult, and your team will be turned off; too simple, and efforts may drop – so there’s a real onus on ensuring your goals drive your team forward.

 Encourage exercise

man suit cycle work

According to Sandie: “Exercising is a great activity and natural antidote to low mood. You don’t have to join a gym or do a marathon to reap the benefits. Try walking to work or taking a walk at lunchtime if you’re feeling down. You’ll be surprised how much of a boost it is.”

Added company can often be the inspiration many people need to get exercising – providing a great opportunity for you to instigate team activities. You’re all there to support and encourage one another, and can even compete against one another, bringing us to our next point.

Motivate through gamification

The increasing trend of gamification in the workplace is a good little motivator that’s well worth leveraging. A combination of technology and psychology, gamification integrates elements of gaming into the work environment, helping to foster a highly effective and engaging learning experience. From quizzes and scored games, to integrated learning paths, it’s a superb way of mixing up your workforce’s usual tasks.

Chieu says: “Gamification adds an element of fun and works particularly well when shared both peer-to-peer and top-down. As well as boosting productivity and performance, the frequent feedback and collaboration can strengthen working relationships and align efforts to create a more streamlined workforce.”

Reward with recognition

office workers clapping

Along the same lines as the above, making your employees feel valued and creating a sense of achievement is particularly critical when it comes to their motivation. Recognising their talents and abilities through a formal scheme is certainly worth looking into. Chieu says: “One of the [best ways to beat the winter blues] is introducing a recognition scheme to help engage your people with the task at hand. According to recent research of ours, 66% of employees believe rewards would increase loyalty.”

Lana Elie, CEO of online floristry business Floom, suggests using team targets and collective recognition as a means drive the whole workforce forward.

“We're run in a very open way where successes and failures are shared across the team, and I try to lead in a way that the team knows what they're working for will also be theirs.

“This means we can celebrate individual and team achievements in the same manner as when we face issues, which keeps everyone motivated and striving for better through thick and thin.”

Whether it’s peer-to-peer recognition, awards for long service, the classic employee of the month or whole team rewards, letting people know they’re doing a good job is hugely beneficial. Even the smallest thank you can go a long way…

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