Motivating employees and beating the winter bluesIt’s February and while spring is only a month away, your employees may be feeling a bit of the winter blues. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, lack of sunlight has been linked to feelings of sluggishness and mood changes, so winter’s shorter days may lead to fewer productive work hours and lower employee morale. 

Tips for Beating the Winter Blues

If you’re noticing signs of lethargy among your employees at this time of year, consider the following ideas to help keep your workers motivated:


  1. Encourage your workers to step outside for at least 30 minutes each day. Exposure to natural sunlight can help lift moods. And even on cloudy days, a brisk walk can alleviate those “blah” feelings.
  2. Offer healthy food choices in the office. reports that staying hydrated and eating more fruits and vegetables can battle the winter blues. Keep filtered water on hand and make sure salads and fresh fruit are part of the menu at lunch meetings. Check out our blog on Promoting a Healthy Workplace for more suggestions.
  3. Change things up! Employees may become more motivated when their jobs are more challenging and interesting. Consider lateral moves to build your workers’ skill levels and knowledge base.
  4. Create opportunities for casual interaction. A company sports team, a family day or an after-hours social event can keep your staff engaged and interested in each other and in their workplace.
  5. Give your workers some face-to-face time with you. Email, voicemail and texting often eliminate the need for personal interaction. Step out of your office every so often and speak with your employees directly.
  6. Let your employees know how they're doing. Even a simple gesture such as a handwritten thank-you note for a job well done may go a long way toward letting employees know they're appreciated. And don't forget annual performance reviews—a good review provides the employee with an honest assessment of his or her strengths and weaknesses and offers the employee a platform to bring up any concerns he or she may have, keeping the lines of communication open. 

When Things Take a More Serious Turn

Keep in mind that for some people, the shortening of daylight hours may lead to a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Symptoms of SAD include a loss of energy and ability to concentrate, loss of interest in work, and social withdrawal.  Like employees with other serious health conditions, an employee with SAD may be entitled to certain protections under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, the federal American with Disabilities Act and similar state laws. If you’re unsure about your obligations, speak with a knowledgeable employment law attorney.


For Additional Information

For more tips on avoiding the winter blues and recognizing the symptoms of SAD, check out the webpages on and Our section on Motivating Employees offers helpful strategies for motivating employees at any time of the year.


Have you had a chance to download our FREE Personnel Recordkeeping Guide? It’s a great resource for keeping on top of your federal recordkeeping obligations! 


Image Credit: Victor1558


Topics: Human Resources, Employee Health and Wellness

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