Winter can be a dreary time for everyone. Add in the stressful events of 2020, and the debilitating effects of the winter months become all the more deadly. Seasonal depression is very real and can have a huge effect on your employees if you’re not careful.

The good news is that you don’t have to be at winter’s mercy every year. There are plenty of steps you can take to keep the winter blues at bay for yourself and your team. Both mental health and productivity will greatly benefit from an active effort.

Need some tips on how to encourage team wellness this winter? This list will help you get started on your way to cheery hearts and blue skies:

1. Add Helpful Resources to Benefits Packages

The first thing your company can do is reevaluate the benefits it offers to employees. What can be added to help encourage team wellness throughout the winter and the year as a whole? Even small additions can make a big difference.

For example, you can provide gym memberships as part of your employee benefits packages. If your employees are leery of going to a gym during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, offer subscriptions to online workout programs instead. Either approach will help promote activity, a huge motivator during the cold winter months. Not only will exercise help improve your employees’ physical health, it releases endorphins that can lift spirits even during the darkest of times.

You can also look at making counseling available to your team members. Having a company therapist on hand or on call will provide employees with easy access to the help and direction they need to get out of a seasonal funk.

2. Allow Time to Unwind

Work can compound the stress and anxiety that seasonal depression and plain old winter blues may bring on your employees. What they need is some extra time to unwind guilt-free. Enabling more personal time will give your team a chance to reenergize before coming back in to work and putting their pedal to the metal.

Got an employee who loves skiing? Approach them this week and tell them they can take off early next Friday for an afternoon on the slopes. You’ll feel like Santa Claus seeing them light up at your suggestion and the permission to take some extra time off during a difficult winter.

Each employee will have different needs and desires. Some may even prefer to keep working as an escape from the world’s current woes. Look for ways to help each one of them unwind in one way or another. Bottling up their stress for too long won’t just affect their productivity now, it might cause them to melt down later.

3. Organize Group Activities

Some team bonding never hurts, no matter the weather. Getting your team together—at a safe social distance—for activities inside and outside of work will help them see that they can rely on each other in good times and bad. Co-workers may even be reminded that others are relying on them, encouraging them to step up their game. 

Group activities can be as simple as a team lunch or a short walk to get some air (be sure to bundle up for this one). Less frequent activities can include volunteer work, sporting events, or other recreational activities that will create great memories for your team and send them home with a smile on their face.

In this year of Covid-19, virtual teams have popped up across the country. Pulling off group activities with remote teams is a bit trickier, but it’s still possible and very beneficial. With videoconferencing technology, you can host a company happy hour, game night or even a talent show to bring everyone together.

4. Provide Needed Tools and Wellness Gear

A woodsman can cut down a lot more trees in a day with a sharp axe than with a dull one. Equipping your team with effective tools will help improve their wellness even without other changes. Eliminating daily task frustrations and workarounds with the right tools will reduce your team’s stress level all on its own.

That doesn’t mean you can’t get wellness-specific, however. For example, a huge aspect of both physical and mental wellness, not to mention survival, is hydration. Giving your team members a company-logoed water bottle to keep at their desks will serve as a constant reminder to stay hydrated. Even during the winter, hydration is key for keeping a person’s brain and body active and strong.

A bigger-picture approach would include taking a look at the ergonomics of your office. Good posture not only helps eliminate the aches and pains of a long work day, it can get employees in a better mindset while they’re focusing on what’s in front of them. Ergonomic desk chairs, keyboards and even standing desks can all make a subtle but noticeable difference in your team’s wellness. 

5. Focus on the Positive

While exterior elements are easier to control, true wellness comes from within. Trying to boost team wellness from the inside out is much more difficult, but it’s more effective and long-lasting. Luckily, there are some tips for increasing your team’s wellness by focusing on the positive.

Start with some goal setting. Guide employees through the goal-setting process, making sure they establish objectives for both their professional and personal lives. Then celebrate each and every victory. Supporting each other through their achievements will carry your team heroically through the winter.

You can also set up a wellness wall in your office. On this wall, employees can share their goals along with quotes, jokes and the company vision. Encourage them to express themselves and use this “vision board” to propel them through the winter.

Team wellness should always be a top priority. Use this guide to help you start lifting up all your employees. Their productivity will rise along with your company, and you’ll find joy in taking care of the people who do so much to move your business forward.

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