Boosting Employee Morale: Advice for a Happy Winter Workplace

It can be difficult for employees to keep their spirits up during winter. It is estimated that around 70 million Americans experience mild to severe seasonal affective disorder, or depressive symptoms most commonly correlated with winter (Psychology Today, 2019). There is also evidence that brain levels of serotonin, a chemical that contributes to happiness, decrease significantly in the darker months (Lambert et al., 2002). Especially if you run a business in a tough climate, the cold weather and darkness may be wearing on your employees. Here are some suggestions for improving morale in the workplace and helping your employees cope in the difficult winter months.

Credit Where Credit is Due

Positive, public feedback can go a long way to helping employees feel valued at work. Use team gatherings as an opportunity to shine a light on employees accomplishments. Perhaps someone has greatly improved their performance, gone out of their way to help a customer, or supported a team member who was struggling. If you do not already have a mechanism for customer feedback, you could implement a satisfaction survey that gives clients a chance to acknowledge helpful employees. Employees who are recognized and appreciated at work will stay motivated and will help their coworkers stay motivated.

Adapt to Changing Needs

In addition to the seasonal effects on mood, many people also struggle to maintain their physical health in winter. Those with care responsibilities may also have additional burdens caring for ill children or parents. Invite employees to communicate with you about these challenges; whenever possible, work with them to create remote work opportunities, flexible hours, or makeup days. This can help ease the burden of doctor’s visits, early school pick-ups, or the employees themselves feeling under the weather. More importantly, showing that you’re aware of these challenges will help your team feel appreciated and foster trust in your leadership.

Don’t Forget the Fun

Companies often use the summer season for parties, picnics, and barbecues, but a family-friendly evening out might benefit your team even more in the winter. Renting out a movie theater, ice rink, bowling alley, or trampoline park can be a relatively inexpensive way to treat your employees and share the fun with their partners and children. Even transforming your workplace for a night with games, food, and music can liven things up. These gatherings also present opportunities to acknowledge outstanding employees. Sharing the recognition with their families will make it all the more memorable.
From everyone at NiteHawk, we wish you continued success this new year. See you in the spring!

Works Cited
Conner, Cheryl. (14 September 2014). 6 ways to increase employee morale and performance (without giving a raise. Forbes. Available at
Psychology Today. (7 February 2019.) Season affective disorder. Available at

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