Nurturing Psychological Wellbeing in the Workplace During Winter

4th December 2023

As I sat at the breakfast table this morning, surrounded by my kids, a collective low mood seemed to hang in the air. The darkness outside our little kitchen window dimmed the usual morning cheer and chaos. My usually upbeat 7 and 11-year-olds were subdued, and quieter than usual, which got me thinking. If the long, dark days of winter can have such an effect on these young, carefree spirits, what about adults dealing with the cost of living crises, global uncertainties, and other stresses? How can we, as a workforce, be expected to bring our best selves to work under these conditions?

The winter months of December and January, with their short days and long nights, bring unique challenges to mental well-being in the workplace. This time of year, while festive for some, can cast a long shadow over our spirits, highlighting the importance of nurturing psychological safety in an organisation.

In these challenging times, it’s vital for employers to acknowledge and address the impact of winter on mental health. Creating an environment where mental well-being is openly discussed and destigmatised is key. This is where platforms like Trickle come into play, offering a way for employers to engage in regular, meaningful check-ins with their teams, fostering a culture where every voice is heard and valued.

If you’re a leader wondering how to improve your team’s psychological safety this winter, read on for eight ideas…

Understanding the winter blues – The lack of sunlight during winter can disrupt our circadian rhythms, leading to feelings of lethargy and gloom. This seasonal mood shift, sometimes known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), can significantly impact employees’ mental health.

Creating a supportive environment – The first step in tackling these challenges is open acknowledgement. Employers can play a pivotal role by starting conversations about mental well-being and encouraging employees to share their feelings and experiences.

Lighting the way – Physical workspace adjustments can make a significant difference. Maximising natural light, using bright, mood-enhancing lighting, and creating cosy spaces can help mitigate the effects of dark, cold weather. Small changes, like adding plants or colourful decor, can uplift the office mood.

Flexible working options – Recognising that winter affects everyone differently is crucial. Offering flexible working options, such as remote working or flexible hours, can help employees manage their energy levels and maintain a better work-life balance.

Promoting physical activity – Encouraging physical activity is an effective way to combat the winter blues. Organising team walks, offering gym membership discounts, or short, in-office exercise breaks can boost endorphins and improve overall mood.

Regular check-ins and support – Regular check-ins during winter are vital. These sessions should be safe spaces for employees to express their feelings and seek support. Providing resources for professional mental health support is also invaluable.

Team bonding and social interaction – Despite its challenges, the festive season offers opportunities for team bonding and social interaction. Inclusive, low-pressure social events can build camaraderie and a sense of belonging, vital for mental well-being.

Recognition and appreciation – Recognising and appreciating employees’ hard work can significantly boost morale, especially as the year ends. Simple gestures of gratitude, whether in a meeting or through a small token of appreciation, can make employees feel valued.

I see first-hand how Trickle supports organisations in creating an open dialogue which is crucial in fostering a workplace where psychological safety is prioritised.

By integrating tools like Trickle, leaders can transform how they support, engage, and collaborate with their teams. It’s about more than just combatting the winter blues; it’s about nurturing a workplace culture where employees feel cared for, valued, and empowered to contribute throughout the year, enhancing the well-being of our teams and fostering a more productive and positive workplace.

How do you look after your team’s psychological safety in the winter months? I’d love to hear any other ideas.

All the best

Rebecca

PS Interested in discovering how our platform can empower you to create, nurture, and evolve a psychologically safe culture? Get in touch for a personalised demonstration today.

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