Co-founder & CEO of BrightHR, Paul Harris, shares his recommendations to get your office through the winter blues from office duvet days to flexi-time to combat the dark mornings.

When it comes to the burden of bad wintery weather, I often feel it can leave your employees in a grump. The stress of getting to the office alone can be enough to put some people in a bad mood all day, from battling the elements to cancelled transport. When it’s cold outside all we want to do is snuggle deep into our cosy duvets, and wallow in a touch of the winter blues. 

But rather than wallowing in winter, I believe this is the time of year bosses can combat the woeful-sickies by reminding employees why they come to work, what is great about their office and ultimately how fun work can be.

I would like to think everyone I work with is happy to come into the office everyday because they not only like what they do, but they also thrive off the fun and playful environment we work in, however, we know a cold snap can leave some people a little blue – so instead we advise companies look to turn the chill factor on its head and play with it.

Build an ice rink in the office…

Encourage businesses to think outside the box and embrace winter is a big part of BrightHR’s ethos. If I had free rein I would be keen to install an office ice rink so staff can skate if they need their spirits lifting. If that sounds a little ambitious, then how about simply offering personalised hot-water bottles to warm people up at their desks?

Why not bring in loads of duvets to the office so people can get cosy and encourage all staff to wear onesies and toasty slippers and, if it’s snowing outside, why not down tools before a brainstorm and have a quick snowball fight to boost office creativity?

Recently we conducted some research with wellbeing at work expert Professor Sir Cary Cooper, and found companies that provided fun in the office, such as Xbox games or karaoke, were more likely to have a productive, happy work place.  

No pulling a winter-sickie if work is fun…

If we are looking at this time of year, and employees calling in sick, our research proves the more fun you have in the office has a direct impact on how many sick days employees take off work.  We actually saw a direct correlation, with 62 percent of employees who had taken no sick days in the last three months believing they had fun at work.

We found more than half the people surveyed in the study who had not experienced workplace fun had been off sick 11 days more in the last three months, compared to those who had. Showing how vital it is to remain engaged with your workforce all year round. Come rain or shine. 

The study we conducted showed employees love fancy dress days, yoga classes and even the simple perk of flexi-time and it made them excited to go to work and more productive as a result.

Be flexible, its cold outside…

This year we are forecast to have a white Christmas, so this is the perfect opportunity to allow your staff to be more flexible with their hours.

Although if an employee is truly engaged they’ll battle through bad weather, it won’t hurt to let them work from home if they can’t make it in. I would argue being especially flexible with your staff this time of year, such as allowing them to work from home occasionally or helping them escape the dark nights closing in, will dilute internal and personal stress in the office. It will also make your employees feel trusted and valued. 

If you trust your employees to manage their personal time, whether it be a weather crisis or a blue Monday morning, they will be more productive with that flexi-time. This is a great time of year to show your employees you value them in the smallest and easiest way, show them you care and value their time and in turn they will value you and your business back.

Ultimately we are blessed in the UK with seasons so why not embrace them, it shouldn’t just be the school kids who get a snow day, so pull on your woolies and start a snow ball fight in your office!

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