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30th Nov, 2022

Christy Houghton
Christy Houghton
Job Title
Digital Content Writer

Wellbeing at work

Business leaders and managers have a responsibility to ensure their team’s mental and physical health isn’t negatively impacted by their work. Entering and leaving the workplace when it’s dark on winter days can severely impact wellbeing and bring down your employees’ moods.

Eileen Donnelly, Director of Ripple & Co, which promotes wellbeing at work, told Reed: “There is an absolutely direct correlation between the way an employee feels, their level of wellbeing and happiness, and support by an organisation to care for them and their productivity – and not just productivity, but discretionary effort, innovation, and creativity.”

What is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal affective disorder is also known as seasonal depression. While it is common to feel a bit less upbeat when the days are shorter, SAD can develop in more severe cases.

Signs of SAD in your employees include:

  • Increased absence in winter months

  • Concentration problems

  • Lack of energy

  • Comfort eating

  • Mood changes

Eileen said that line managers who know their team members should be able to sense when something is different in them and should have the confidence to spot the signs and start a conversation in which they offer support.

Lighting up office days

To compensate for the limited sunlight throughout the winter days, it’s important employees understand the benefits of vitamin D so they can make the most of the daylight hours, whether that’s taking a lunchtime walk or finding a sunny window spot to work in view of.

If your workplace has very little natural light, it might be worth encouraging employees to work from home for the day or to leave before it gets dark and finish the day working from home. If not, you might recommend (or perhaps provide) SAD lights or phototherapy to help boost their moods and motivation.

Holiday celebrations can also be helpful to boosting your team’s mood, providing a chance to relax, have some fun and renew some of that lost energy to get the last of the year’s work done well.

Team-building festive activities

Taking advantage of the festive break is helpful to your team, even for those who don’t celebrate it. You will likely already have organised a Christmas party, but there are other ways to engage your team in activities that won’t disrupt the flow of their work and will be useful in the long run for teamwork and camaraderie.

Secret Santa – many companies host a secret Santa event in which they enjoy lunch together as a team and exchange gifts. Everyone then has a chance to get to know each other’s personalities through the gifts they give and receive.

Christmas games – you might host an after-hours online or in-person Christmas quiz – perhaps a pub quiz where you work together in teams to answer questions. This creates teamwork between people who don’t usually work together directly.

Christmas Jumper Day – on 8 December, your team can dress up in their best Christmas jumpers for the charity Save the Children. Everyone donates a few pounds to raise money for charity, and you can even make it a competition and give a prize to the best dressed.

Decorate the office – most workplaces will have a tree and some tinsel up, but this is another opportunity to create a fun activity for your team. You might encourage them to join in with decorating the office, or to decorate their own desks however they like.

Unofficial awards ceremony – any opportunity to praise your teams will be well-received. Nothing too serious, it’s Christmas! It can be a tongue-in-cheek ceremony where everyone is recognised for something like: 'best Christmas jumper', 'most impressive hairstyle', 'funniest gaffe', 'most organised', or something of that nature which applies to your team.

For anyone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas for religious reasons, you can still invite them to take part, as long as you are careful not to put pressure on them to join in if they don’t feel comfortable. You can still make these activities inclusive by reframing them as winter or end-of-year activities and rewards for a year of hard work, without putting heavy emphasis on the Christmas aspect.

Taking the opportunity to reward your team will have a huge payoff – rewards are proven to be effective tools for productivity, wellbeing, employee satisfaction, employee retention and more.

If you’re looking for someone to join your team, or your next opportunity in 2023, contact your nearest Reed office.