‘Tis the season for icy temperatures, shorter days, and holiday cheer. With winter just around the corner, organizations are faced with seasonal challenges that can have an impact on employees’ overall health and productivity, as well as workplace attendance.
Winter can be a busy time for many, but there are a few things you can do to ensure things don’t freeze over in your workplace. Consider this roundup of wintertime HR tips an early holiday gift from us to you!
Provide an Optimal Physical Environment
Chilly winter weather makes individuals more susceptible to getting sick. However, there are several ways an organization can keep germs at bay and promote employee well-being within the physical workspace. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is by ensuring proper ventilation. For example, try to keep office doors open when meetings aren’t taking place. It’s always a good idea to have hand sanitizer readily and easily accessible throughout the workspace as well.
In addition, improved illumination in an office environment has been found to improve energy levels, mood, and the ability to learn and retain information. Your company can lighten the mood and help combat those dark winter days by improving office lighting. Adjustments you can make include developing a seating plan that positions desks near windows to make the most of natural daylight, installing light boxes or new light fixtures, and even major structural changes such as skylights and atriums.
Similarly, room temperature has also been proven to impact productivity. Workspaces that are either too hot or too cold can make it difficult for employees to focus on their work. While the ideal temperature may vary by person, research shows that a reasonably warm room with a general temperature of 21.1° to 22.8° Celsius (70° to 73° Fahrenheit) promotes optimal productivity.
Prepare for Unplanned & Planned Absences
Freezing temperatures, snow, rain, and ice can often lead to unplanned absences due to sickness or poor road conditions. To ensure your organization continues to run smoothly, and to help protect the health and safety of employees, it’s a good idea to make sure all absence policies are reviewed and revised.
To deter employees from showing up to work while sick and spreading illness, organizations should have clear and comprehensive sick leave policies in place. Implementing remote work plans and policies is another great way to mitigate employee absences. This is especially helpful during the wintertime when commuting to work can become more difficult for some. Frosty roads and snowy weather can result in unsafe driving conditions, road closures, and reduced or cancelled public transport.
There is also a general increase in travel during the winter, as employees celebrate the holidays with family and friends. Organizations can expect to see an influx of time-off requests during this season, especially around Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. To properly prepare for these planned absences, it’s a good idea to stay on top of upcoming statutory holidays in your region, in addition to updating and reviewing your employee leave policies, and finding adequate coverage ahead of time.
Pass on the Holiday Cheer
The winter season can become quite busy for many, both in and outside of the workplace. As the calendar year comes to a close, be sure to boost morale by showing appreciation to your employees.
In addition to busy schedules, the shorter days and darker weather can take a toll on employees’ mental health. Individuals can experience seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, which is a form of depression that mostly takes place during the colder months. To keep the winter blues at bay, employee wellness programs can help improve well-being in the workplace. For example, companies can implement programs that provide mental health counseling, stress-management workshops, meditation, or even dog therapy.
Employers can also boost morale with in-office team-building activities to celebrate the holidays. This could include a special breakfast, Secret Santa gift exchanges, or handing out chocolates. Many companies also plan annual holiday parties. When planning workplace social events, though, it is always a good idea to effectively communicate and remind your employees of the policies relating to responsible behaviour at social gatherings.
Whatever you choose, the festive season should make it easy to spread joy and lift spirits.
Is your organization ready for this upcoming season? If you require assistance preparing for the seasonal challenges of the winter months, the experts at TPD are happy to help. We can assist with everything from policy creation and review, to providing temporary staffing coverage for planned or unplanned absences. Feel free to get in touch with us here, or give us a call at 1.888.685.3530.