Hawaiian Shirt Day may be a good idea in theory, but it’ll probably take more than that to ward off the winter blues in your office.
Jordan Rodney, President of MaxPeoplePerform, a small Thornhill-based HR consulting firm, says he encounters many questions regarding the seasonal affective disorder, both from clients and in his own workplace.
Rodney says his business tries to practice what they preach, and he’s seen first-hand the success some small, yet important initiatives can have in avoiding a production dip once the winter months roll around.
He says small businesses are more susceptible to the hiccups that come with seasonal changes.
“I use the analogy of a football team versus a basketball team. If you’re a big business, a football team, and someone gets hurt, you have plenty of backup” he says. “But if you lose a key motivated and engaged individual on a basketball team — in a small business, it’s going to impact you.”
It all begins with wellness, and one of the truest and time-tested ways to crush the winter blues is through exercise, says fitness expert Veronica Marsden.
“Resist the temptation to hibernate this winter,” says Marsden, President of Tri Fit, a workplace health and fitness provider. “Take your dog for extra long walks, start a neighbourhood walking club or sign up for yoga classes. The energy boost is guaranteed to make you feel good.”
Rodney, for his part, says shaking things up at the office works wonders in capturing the hearts and minds of employees.
“Socialize with your staff,” he says. “Keep them busy on creative projects, have them outside of their comfort zone. Have them thinking about that different job, rather than the depression of 4:30 p.m. darkness, or waking up and it’s still dark.
This, he says, helps prevent distraction and makes gloomy winter days go by faster.
But if you don’t want to interrupt workflow, there are more subtle ways to pep up your staff, such as installing UV light bulbs that replicate sunlight in common areas.
“Natural sunlight is critical, and obviously you can’t get that much in the winter,” said Rodney.
Instilling ‘summer hours,’ allowing your staff to bank extra hours for shortened Fridays, can also help — especially since it means beating end-of-week traffic.
“If you’re in Toronto on the 401 or 404 at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, it’s torturous,” he says. “Being able to leave the office when it’s still daylight is much better.”