Winter Wellbeing – Avoiding Employee Blues

Published: 09/11/2021
Author: Vidatec

With the days getting darker and the weather getting frostier, businesses may start to notice the impact that the season change can have on the overall wellbeing of a workforce, making it harder to keep staff motivated and engaged. Consequently, some organisations are seeing this as an opportunity to assess new digital tools that can strengthen company culture and support HR teams.

Bupa has reported that SAD (seasonal affective disorder) affects up to 3 in 100 people in the UK, an illness with symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, low energy levels and feelings of anxiousness which can greatly impact an employee’s ability to work. This clearly indicates that the shift from blue skies to grey clouds can take a serious toll on our mental health and highlights the need for businesses to accommodate accordingly.

Bupa has reported that SAD (seasonal affective disorder) affects up to 3 in 100 people in the UK

Feelings of low mood and unproductiveness have the tendency to creep upon us and it can be hard to pinpoint when this change occurs as it usually happens over a prolonged period of time. This can often make it hard to flag with management or even colleagues because it can be easily brushed off as ‘just a bad day’. Equally, this is made even harder for those who work in deskless industries, or when employees work from home, meaning that consistent symptoms can be left out of sight and there are less opportunities to raise the issues. This can result in things not being properly addressed and create a more persistent problem in the long run.

It’s becoming an even more significant dilemma with recent reports finding that mental health is the leading cause of sick days in the UK, increasing the amount of time and energy companies are spending on HR strategies to combat this rise. However, knowing how to approach these conversations or offer the right resources can be difficult for any business. As a result, many brands are turning to digital platforms to help bridge the communication gap.

Going digital

A digital platform can offer flexibility and accessibility to HR departments, helping them to create a safe space for those all-important connections to take place. This is an essential element in supporting employees, especially for those industries built on dispersed workforces such as in hospitality, retail, or construction where colleagues don’t necessarily occupy the same space at the same time. In these instances, and in fact in many businesses that have now adopted more hybrid working too, a dedicated employee engagement app can be a useful asset, especially during those colder periods when HR departments face even greater challenges in maintaining positivity and a harmonious company culture.

One way companies can address this is by increasing the frequency of wellbeing-related communications with employees during these darker months so that staff will feel more connected. A digital platform is a great facilitator for making these connections without being restricted to a particular time or place, or formal organisation.

Creating a dedicated digital hub for employee health and wellness content that can be accessed by everyone via a digital platform, for example, also offers the benefit of variety. Important messages about wellbeing in the workplace can be repeated and reinforced across multimedia

This could include hosting informative content covering things such as the symptoms of SAD and how to manage them, winter nutrition or seasonal things to enjoy. Or perhaps details of company events geared towards helping employees form healthy habits, such as yoga groups or running clubs. Employee wellness programmes are able to come to life when using a variety of different media, from videos to events, forums, articles, helpful downloads and other content, all be centrally housed within a branded, dedicated app.

In this way, technology can become an essential resource for HR departments when looking to prioritise employee wellbeing during the winter months.

Taking the initiative to check in on employees and encourage healthy dialogue that puts employee wellbeing first can go a long way in supporting staff at this time of year. The winter blues have a wide impact on the overall health of any business, and after the effects of lockdowns that are still manifesting, it’s more important than ever that businesses are proactively offering employees the right support exactly when they need it.