Tips for keeping employee motivation up during the winter


As the nights draw in and the temperatures drop, the everyday mood can fluctuate for a lot of people. For some business owners, it can be difficult to find the right balance when trying to keep employees motivated during this time of year. 

NerdWallet’s business finance expert, Connor Campbell, commented:

“Work burnout and fatigue tend to be at a high during the winter months due to a decrease in Vitamin D and reduced sun exposure, leaving more employees in a slump and feeling disengaged from their job, and perhaps even their co-workers. This puts business owners at risk of seeing employees take excess time off sick or even potentially quit. 

Of course, businesses want to retain staff as much as possible, but it’s also important that those staff are putting out the best quality work that they can. But for this, they need to be properly motivated. 

During the holiday period, some businesses may be busier than usual, which in turn puts excess stress and pressure onto employees. Some employees may be left feeling overworked and burnt-out during the colder months. To counterbalance this, staff need to feel that their time is valued and that they are working for a reason.

The colder weather makes commuting rough for everyone, business owners and employees alike, but with the right incentives businesses can see staff power through the winter with productivity on track.”

To help business owners keep their employees motivated during the winter months, Connor has shared the following tips:

  1. Be flexible during the holiday season

December is a popular month for partying, from Christmas events to New Years celebrations. It’s safe to assume that a lot of staff will have plans over the holiday period, some will almost certainly be travelling to catch up with friends, family and other loved ones that they may not have seen for a long time. 

Naturally, following the difficult couple of years that we’ve all endured due to the Covid-19 pandemic, people are going to be more eager than ever to get out and celebrate the festive season. As a business owner, you can help your employees stay motivated by giving them some flexibility during this time period. 

Of course, businesses can’t just stop trading during this time, and you’ll still need staff in the office. However, being as flexible as you can with allowing employees to take time out to visit their family, or work more remotely can go a long way in keeping them motivated and working hard.

With all the party planning and travel preparations, the holiday season can be a highly stressful time for employees. Showing an understanding of why your staff may be particularly stressed at the moment and offering them more frequent breaks to unwind can be particularly effective.

  1. Make the office more appealing

During the winter, many employees will be sitting at their desks fantasising about being at home on the sofa, perhaps under a warm blanket or spending time with a loved one. Whilst you can’t bring all of the comforts of home into the office, you can make the office space more cosy and welcoming for the colder months.

Allowing employees to keep a blanket at their desk or providing sofas and other soft furnishings to sit on can help to create a more relaxed atmosphere. If you are able to do so, investing in some warmer lighting, such as lamps, to use during those dark winter days could boost the mood of your workers. The cosier you make your office feel, the better chance your staff will enjoy being there.

  1. Schedule some special events

Sometimes it’s the small things that make a real difference, and special events are no exception. At this time, planning big festive events may feel daunting and unachievable, due to additional living and energy costs. In a NerdWallet survey of 500 UK business owners and senior decision makers, 36% planned to cut back on Christmas parties this year as it was unaffordable in the ongoing cost of living crisis. 

You may also be feeling reluctant to set up any special events during the winter period due to budget constraints, but thankfully a special event doesn’t always have to be expensive.

Offering something like a late-start with a coffee morning can make employees feel excited to come into the workplace, and can break up the repetition of a traditional working week. 

Another great event to set up is an office Christmas decoration day, where staff are welcomed to help decorate the office for the festive period and put their own stamp on the place. The more employees feel that they’ve contributed to the look of the office, the more comfortable they may feel spending time there.

  1. Make use of KPI targets

Mentioning KPIs can often be thought of as putting pressure on your employees and has a sort of stigma surrounding it, but realistically, people want to take pride in their work and feel that it means something. 

By sharing your KPI targets, announcing successes, and monitoring ongoing growth, this can make employees feel more motivated to try hard and help reach targets. Offering small rewards for hitting targets can also increase the productivity business owners are likely to see as a result of utilising KPIs. 

Perhaps, make an hour per month dedicated to celebrating the successes of your employees and comparing past results to show progress.

  1. Put together seasonal playlists

Music can affect productivity because it has a natural tendency to make people feel things, so the type of music you play in the office will have an effect on your employees.

Employees may feel that they’re shut away from all of the seasonal activities outside of work, so bringing these seasonal celebrations into the office space through dedicated playlists can help staff to feel included in the wider holiday seasons. 

Christmas playlists are almost essential to office spaces, and are a great way to get staff feeling included in the team. Making a playlist that employees can edit and add songs to will help to make it feel like more of a group effort and is also likely to result in the most universally-popular songs being included. However, ensuring there is variety may be wise, as not everybody likes Christmas songs, especially every day.

This doesn’t have to start with Christmas playlists, although these are probably the easiest to put together. You could start in October with a Halloween themed playlist to build up to the barrage of Christmas music that employees will soon be hearing come November.


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