Maintaining high levels of productivity throughout the year can be a difficult task for HR, especially when it starts to get cold outside and everyone’s suffering from the holiday blues.
Despite best efforts, productivity can dip throughout the year. There can be a variety of triggers but the winter months are among the worst for many employees. The shorter days, colder temperatures, and stress of the impending festive period can mean that professionals are sluggish when they come to the office.
It may seem inevitable that the same thing will happen to your workforce once the clocks change but this doesn't need to be the case. There are measures HR can take to prevent or at least limit the dent to productivity during the long winter months.
Prioritize health and wellbeing
A big factor that prevents employees from being even slightly productive in the workplace is illness. There's no denying that people are more prone to getting sick in the colder weather but employers can do a lot to support healthier practices in the office. Encourage everyone to get a flu shot and any other vaccines that may help them through the winter. You can even go as far as asking a community nurse to come into the office to deliver the flu shots so employees don't have to arrange it themselves outside of work.
Measures like providing fruit or smoothies can also make a massive difference to the health and wellbeing of professionals, as well as ensuring they have a positive work-life balance throughout the colder months.
Organize social events
It may seem counterintuitive to encourage productivity by arranging social events but helping employees to relax and bond outside of work can boost their abilities in the office. Whether people are prone to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or just find it more difficult to get out of bed in the darker mornings, putting together a calendar of social events can boost morale and, as such, productivity.
This can be big occasions like a Halloween, Bonfire Night or Christmas party or smaller events like payday drinks. More low-key social activities can be just as beneficial as the bigger ones as they allow people the chance to chat and unwind with their colleagues. These opportunities enable you to create a more relaxed culture where employees can work closely and productively with their colleagues.
Focus on training opportunities
Ensuring employees have the opportunity to develop their skills during the winter months is a great way to get them motivated and engaged in their role at a time when they could otherwise be flagging. Whether through peer-to-peer training, third-party or online courses, giving people the chance to complete continuing professional development (CPD) can be an effective way of keeping them on track.
It's important that this training is related to their personal development and goals so that each person is able to see that they are making meaningful progress not just jumping through hoops. This is also a great exercise for employers during the winter months, where business may be dying down for the year, as it ensures professionals aren't being unproductive because they don't have enough work to do.
Analyze personal development goals
Personal development goals should be evaluated regularly but if you've not already planned something for the last quarter of the year, you should ensure that there is time set aside for it. This is worthwhile at any time but people tend to feel reflective with the New Year in sight and may even be considering what direction their career is currently heading in. You can not only make the most of this by scheduling in personal development meetings in Q4 but it will remind them that you value them as an employee.
Getting management to sit down with team members to talk through their professional goals can not only motivate them but refocus them on what they should be working towards. This can make them more productive, while also ensuring that they are making progress and getting all the support they need to realize their potential.
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