Christmas may be on everyone’s radar now, but before we know it January will soon be here. Winter can have a huge impact on the mental health and wellbeing of working Brits, with studies showing it not only affects their mood but also their productivity.

January, after all, is the Monday of the calendar, making it roundly resented. It’s little wonder why: cold, wet weather, dreary days with less daylight along with the post-Christmas penny-pinching, as well as the burden of New Year’s resolutions bearing down in full force.

The reality of coming back to work after the festive break is tough to face, even for the most dedicated employee. So, planning for how to cope beyond Christmas and into the New Year can help you and your employees beat the winter blues. To help, the experts at Brighter Business have a few suggestions for SME owners to keep their employees motivated in the new year slump.

Implement a fresh look

No one wants to leave their cosy, Christmas-themed home to come back to work and face the workload that invariably awaits.

One way to get around this is to try to freshen up the appearance of the office. Changing how the workplace looks can have a positive psychological impact. A slight change – even just a new colour – can help to freshen up the space and can even boost productivity.

You can also try to encourage your employees to declutter their desks before leaving for Christmas, so it feels less overwhelming to come back to.

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Go green

Adding some greenery to the office can have a hugely positive effect on morale; research has consistently shown that greenery can improve productivity, memory retention, creativity and problem solving, while also reducing stress.

It’s easy (and affordable) to add these improvements to your own work environment simply by adding some foliage to the office floor. Encourage your employees to bring in their favourite plant for their desk, too – you’ll soon notice the benefits.

Swap Christmas gifts for a January thank you

Another way to help your staff get over the seasonal bump is to welcome them back with a small, thoughtful token. A little gift – a gift voucher, a 2019 diary or even just a card - left on their desk or on top of their locker can serve as a nice way to boost spirits and let them know that their hard work is appreciated.

From an employee engagement perspective, these sorts of measures can help to alleviate the return to work and give everyone around the office a little lift. Studies have also shown that workers are less likely to look for a new job if they’ve received a bonus or gift from their boss.

Get past the weather

While it’s cold and wet outside, everyone would rather be somewhere warm and dry. That doesn’t mean that your workplace should be doing its best sauna impression.

There is an ideal temperature range for promoting productivity in office environments; when it’s either too hot or too cold, productivity may be compromised.

It’s difficult to please everyone, but try to maintain a consistent temperature in the workplace. The NHS recommends domestic properties be kept between 18-21 degrees (for those of you working from home) and traditional workplaces should be between 21-23 degrees.

Get healthy

Exercising is one of the best ways to get the endorphins flowing and a great way to work off some of the extra Christmas weight. Although, you may struggle to motivate your staff to head to the gym on their lunch break, you can encourage them to get through glum January days by emphasising the importance of exercise and eating healthy.

Try to encourage your team to take a walking meeting, or just go for a short lunchtime stroll. This can-do wonders for their morale and their productivity.

Chocolate is a big part of Christmas, so why not try replacing any sweet treats in the office with healthy alternatives such as nuts or fruit.

As an employer, there are a few different ways you can go about encouraging a positive workforce. But, this time of the year can be very tough to motivate your team, so Brighter Business has some additional advice and guides available to help business owners improve their workplace.

by Conor McArdle, Brighter Business

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