Help your employees wellbeing – beating the Winter Blues

The old adage states that a happy worker is a productive worker.  The nights might be getting shorter but, what if some of your employees are suffering from the Winter Blues?

Around 3 to 6% of people in the UK are thought to experience SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). However, what might be surprising is that over 10% of people are thought to suffer from the winter blues or sub-syndromal SAD (S-SAD) which is a less severe form of the condition.

In the UK and other countries north of the equator, the symptoms usually develop at some time between September and November and continue until March or April. Symptoms tend to be worse in December, January and February.  Symptoms can include, difficulty in waking up in the morning, decreased energy/lethargy, craving for sweet and starchy foods, withdrawal from family and friends and particularly in January and February heightened feelings of depression, anxiety and irritability.

So, how can companies encourage all of their employees to lift their winter blues from the lack of natural sunlight when there isn’t much natural sunlight?  Here are some suggestions that you can implement,

Boost you’re the overall mood of your employees by ensuring that they get enough exercise; encourage them to take the stairs instead of the lifts and to get outside for a walk during their lunch break. Suggest some stretching exercises – with posters on the wall maybe – sluggish energy can be shifted by moving and any movement will make you feel better.   Gym membership packages can often be negotiated effectively by HR Departments – encourage you employees to hit the ground running with their New Year Resolutions and join a gym or a sports club.

If your Company runs a staff canteen then try to energize your staff with food.  If not, then advertise local businesses that can supply healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and for nightshift workers, dinner.  Our bodies respond to what we put in them which also affects our mood. Comfort foods don’t have to be eliminated completely. However, do consider including different choices. Do switch over to foods that support your mood like complex carbohydrates which are also brain enhancers and be mindful of the season.

In the winter, our bodies need foods that provide warmth like winter squashes and root vegetables and healthy grains.

Consider introducing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).  Talking over what’s bothering your staff is a great way to release the pent up emotions that plague them. Helping them to share their feelings can help to resolve them – conversing is not just good for the soul and mood; it’s recently been proven to help with your mental alertness and your memory.

In simple terms, an ‘EAP’ is a 24 hour, 365 day CONFIDENTIAL telephone counselling service for your staff to contact

Any person can make a difference within an organization – by looking after your employee’s mental wellbeing over the winter months then you are more likely to see increased productivity and decreased absenteeism – the Holy Grail for any HR Department.