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Don't Let Winter Affect Your Work Climate!

Winter is here in full force and by now many of us have figured out just the right amount of layers needed to keep the cold at bay. In the workplace as well, the cold weather has also had many other effects. In fact, research has shown that the weather conditions do in fact impact on energy levels and moods of employees. According to a CareerBuilder.com survey of more than 6,000 workers, 10 percent say they tend to be less productive on gloomy and rainy days, with 21 percent stating that weather negatively impacts their demeanor.  In addition to productivity, weather can impact employee moods and how they interact with their co-workers. Thirty-two percent of workers say they tend to have a happier disposition when it’s sunny or warm outside, while 12 percent tend to be sadder or angrier on gloomy days. Sound familiar?

So, it would therefore be true to say that climate affects how people feel and behave. But hold on, all is not gloom and doom.

Employers can consciously work on improving employee morale and energy levels during the winter months. By focusing on the work climate (weather of the work place) which is the prevailing workplace atmosphere as experienced by employees and captures what it feels like to work in a group.

In fact, it has been found that a negative work climate impedes performance and leads to increasing levels of absenteeism and turnover. On the other hand, a positive work climate leads to and sustains employee motivation and improved performance. In reality, a positive work climate has also been known to influence the “discretionary effort,” or level of effort above and beyond job expectations, that employees exert.

So firstly, the building blocks for a positive work climate require employers to ensure that there is absolute clarity and standards in terms of work performance. Secondly, that the foundation of support to employees to deliver as well as the necessary rewards and enabling them to take responsibility has to be in place. Finally, that there is the necessary mechanisms for challenging the team and encouraging pride and team commitment.

However, for the winter months or in those moments when team energy seems to be low, here are 10 tips for creating a more motivated and energized work climate:

1) Laughter – there is nothing like laughter to release energy, relieve stress and flood the workplace with happy hormones. This could be done through sharing jokes, telling funny anecdotes. In fact one technique is to get the whole team to close their eyes and start laughing for 5 minutes. This removes the self-consciousness and also eventually will release genuine laughter.
2) Dancing – once again movement is a good way to raise energy especially since colder weather usually makes people reluctant to move around. One strategy is to get music and in teams of 5, get each team member to come up with a step that becomes each team’s dance.
3) Singing – Like the dancing, each small team can come up with a team anthem which they could accompany with their dance.
4) Warm healthy meals and fruit – in Winter months people are usually attracted to a lot of sugar which is not helpful for energy levels. Employers can ensure that once a week there is a hot soup available and some winter fruits around as snacks for employees.
5) Fun and engaging team-building activities and games – there are many possibilities for this that encourages competitiveness. 30 Seconds, team scrabble etc or quick games that really just livens thing up in the workplace;
6) Power hour – find a hour every 2nd week to get teams together to come up with some of the most outrageous ideas to increase productivity and also performance. Create rewards for the best ideas. One idea I remember was a team that decided to come to work in their pajamas. In fact they challenged the CEO to go to a meeting in her pajamas. It was great fun and created amazing solidarity in the workplace.
7) Get to know each other better – once a week pass a bowl around and get people to draw someone’s name. They are allowed to ask that person any question.
8) Breathing exercises – there is nothing like good breathing to lift energy. There are many guidebooks available and in fact teachers who would willingly come and teach your team some good breathing exercises.
9) Affirmations or heart sharing – have days where people affirm each other or share their hearts.
10) Story circles – teams can create stories creatively together which they share with the bigger group. This is another technique to unlock creativity.

So, all that remains is you to share the responsibility with the team to create an energized work climate. Get everyone to take a turn each week to try something different (one of the above or other techniques) to raise energy. Secondly make sure that it is meaningful and fresh (nothing kills energy like monotony) and finally make sure it is inoffensive. In other words, get the team to agree to not be hurtful or get in the way of someone’s personal values.

Good luck in energizing.

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