Winter is here. ❄️ Some may say it’s their favorite season, but we have a hard time agreeing—they call it winter blues for a reason! It’s widely reported and very understandable: Employee morale falls during winter.
Maybe your tree or menorah is still up, your gifts might still be laying around the house, or you just can’t seem to let go of holiday music just yet—we get it. The winter months can create a roller coaster of emotions with the highs of seeing loved ones, celebrating and relaxing ... and all of a sudden you’re back into work mode.
If you catch yourself feeling the winter blues and your concentration is a little cloudy after PTO, you’re not the only one. Various studies have shown that January and February are consistently the least productive months.
On the plus side, companies that prioritize employee morale, engagement, and well-being are more resilient. So, how do teams bounce back quickly and get excited about the workday again? It’s probably a nice in-between of Scrooge and Buddy the Elf. Give yourself some room to accept that the holidays were great, but have come and gone. There will be more moments for rest and relaxation, but now it’s time to start working toward your goals!
5 surefire ways to beat the winter blues
1. Celebrate company wins to boost employee morale
A great way to jumpstart employee motivation in January and February is to take into account what you accomplished last year. Did you hit your goals? Were there rocks or big accomplishments you achieved? Take the time to recognize the efforts you made and the ones that helped make it possible.
The early months of winter can require some extra positivity, and looking back can provide motivation for employees to know where they’ve been and where they want to go next. Establishing a space for them to feel appreciated for their hard work can produce a jolt of encouragement to dream big with goals and put them into practice faster.
While you’re at it, why not get your game plan together with each team member? A recent study concluded that 65% of employees want more feedback 👥. You might have spent Q4 planning out the upcoming year already, but take some extra time to meet individually and ensure coworkers feel informed, confident, and prepared for the quarter ahead.
If your company is making some structural changes, introducing a new service, or improving benefits and perks, it’s a good time to review these. Employee morale can be improved when changes are coming up at your company with new incentives and ways of working.
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2. Create better routines and new habits
It’s a new year, but your leadership might not quite be feeling like a new version of themselves yet—and that’s okay. We don't need to mention resolutions, but getting back to good habits, or setting up better routines, can help break the post-holiday slump.
Many leaders are looking to reduce meetings, or at least the ones that could just be a Slack message 😉 . Employees have been on virtual meetings and conferences for a LONG time since 2020. We’ve all been zapped by the occasional “do you have 10 mins?” message that turns into a full hour, or 10 people on a call when it could have been just two.
A meeting fatigue study showed that 89% of workers agree that they would benefit from at least one day free from scheduled calls and meetings. Are your leaders mindful of how they are scheduling their time and what they require of each team member? It’s important that each person’s independence be respected to use time wisely, avoid employee fatigue and burnout, and ultimately get stuff done ✅.
Psst: The Bonusly marketing team has no meetings every Thursday!
New routines don’t just have to be about meetings, and not all meetings are bad. Maybe you need a new 15-minute standup every other day to stay motivated and communicate better. The main goal is to be considerate of value-added events and activities. Nothing takes away more from employee morale than a recurring event or theme that seems unnecessary to the majority of participants. Managers should ask what their employees want more of, and what should be ✂ to be more productive and satisfied with their work.
Some new leadership routines could be trying out a time management platform, creating a dashboard to track what’s important, setting an accountability flowchart and sticking to it, or just taking 30 minutes of the day to unwind and prepare for the next.
3. Assign mentors to new employees
Are there new employees being onboarded at your company? The start of the year is a popular time for new coworkers to enter your Zoom room and meet you for the first time. Having certain individuals own parts of the onboarding process can keep them motivated to bring their best to each interaction with that new employee.
While the winter months can seem a bit sluggish as everyone is getting back to normal, remember that someone new is experiencing a fresh start! If a new teammate joins, partnering them up can inspire someone who may have been at your organization for years. They'll experience what it’s like to start at your company all over again, even though it may be totally different now.
Also, a study from Degreed found that 55% of workers first turn to their peers other than their boss or the internet when looking for ways to learn. Peer-to-peer learning is powerful and meaningful for all coworkers.
This exchange can help spark new friendships and it is always good to know that your company continues to grow and bring in great people 󠅓💯. This can really empower veteran employee behavior as they are getting back into the swing of things. Showing your workers that you trust them to teach others can emphasize your commitment to their personal development and hone in leadership qualities.
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4. Mix work and personal goals with your team
Speaking of personal development: does your organization allow your team to communicate both personal and work goals for the year? This could be paying off student debt, saving to buy a house, getting a new dog, or starting a side hustle. You never know!
Coworkers want to feel heard by their peers and find natural ways to connect. And that’s the fun of it when you bring in personal goals with ones that you are hoping to achieve at work.
5. Kick off a team or company-wide project in Q1
There’s no time like the present to jump into a quarter or half-year project that involves your whole team or more than a few individuals. Let’s say you are looking to design a new website or launch a new product. Whatever the case may be, there’s probably some big thing that you need to work on fast 📊!
It’s important to be mindful of how big a project you take on during this time, because the flipside could be an overwhelmed staff. Prioritize what you think can be done and set realistic goals, all the while providing open communication for updates and adjustments.
Hopefully, these suggestions are helpful for boosting morale with your employees during the winter months. Remember…coffee always helps too. 😆Have a great start to the year and celebrate your wins often and openly!
To boost employee retention and plan for a successful year: