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30 Nov 2021
by Jamie Mackenzie

How to mitigate the impact of winter on your employees’ wellbeing

The festive season is almost here, and many are looking forward to treats and time off with friends and family. But between the change in season, colder nights and darker evenings, now more than ever, it’s important to support your employees’ wellbeing.


Supporting your teams’ wellbeing isn’t just good for them, it’s good for your business too. It can help you address the ongoing ‘war for talent’ as 40% of UK employees would look for a new job if their employer didn’t support their mental and emotional wellbeing. And yet, only 38 per cent of employees said their employer values their wellbeing.

Here’s what to look out for:

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):

Thirty five per cent of individuals experience SAD, a type of depression that’s exacerbated by winter. It’s no surprise since daylight hours are shorter in the winter months and it’s harder to get outside into the sunshine.

Ongoing impacts of remote working isolation:

Although there are many positives of remote working, it did also cause feelings of isolation for many. Forty one per cent of employees said that socialising is what they missed most about being in an office and 21% said that working from home has affected their mental health.  

Ongoing social isolation can impact your teams’ physical and mental health, as well as lead to feelings of being left out of their workplace and becoming disengaged.

How to support your teams

1. Offer mental health guidance:

Nineteen per cent of workers would be more likely to consider working for an organisation if it offered dedicated mental health support. Introducing an employee assistance programme could help.

They give your teams access to the support they need, with any of the issues they’re having, whether they prefer to talk on the phone, email or speak to someone face-to-face.

2. Keep an eye out for presenteeism:

Between coughs, colds and flu there are many seasonal illnesses around which could mean more presenteeism in your workplace. Whether that’s people coming into work or logging on at home even though they’re not physically or mentally fit to work.

Make sure to let your people know it’s okay, and actively encouraged, for them to take time off when they need it to recover and recuperate.

3. Don’t forget to show your appreciation:

The end of the year is the perfect time to reflect on how hard your teams have worked, the challenges they’ve faced and what they’ve achieved.

A simple gesture to recognise your employees can go a long way to boost morale and engagement. It could be anything from a thank you card at the end of the year, to a voucher or physical gift.

4. Support your teams with helpful wellbeing advice:

Here’s just a few tips you could share with your teams to help them stay well this winter:

  • Promote the benefits of saying hydrated: even mild dehydration can have side effects, so encourage your teams to stay hydrated to help limit the risks of headaches and migraines as well as boosting energy levels.
  • Remind them about their 5 a day: as tempting as it is to snack on festive treats, it’s important for us all to stay on top of our 5 a day as well as they’re a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre as well as reduce risk of developing some health conditions like heart disease.
  • Suggest healthy activities: there are plenty of reasons it is difficult to motivate ourselves to exercise in winter, but if we don’t our physical and mental health could suffer. Encourage your teams to take breaks during the day and go out for walks while the sun is shining. It will help the stretch, refocus, and refresh, as well as topping up on much-needed Vitamin D.

Jamie Mackenzie, director at Sodexo Engage.

This article is provided by Sodexo Engage.

In partnership with Sodexo Engage

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