7 Great Winter Wellness Tips for Your Workplace

As the cold weather sets in, it’s easy to go through a whole day without seeing the sunlight and to develop unhealthy eating and exercise habits. One study has documented the health improvements of six weeks of continuous activity and healthy eating in a large group. Participants who came in for a follow-up health assessment after one year showed improved blood pressure and sleep quality as well as less stress and fatigue.

Here are seven tips to help employees stay fit and healthy.

Lighten Things Up

The lack of sunlight in winter can trigger anxiety, lethargy and difficulty sleeping and concentrating. This is known as seasonal affective disorder, and 15% of Canadians will experience some form of it this year.

Consider these tips to light up the office and lighten the mood:

  • Let as much natural sunlight into the office as possible.
  • Employees can organize daily walks around the office with co-workers. For those who want to go it alone, simply taking the stairs can make a big difference.
  • If your business is set up for it, dedicate a quiet area for employees to relax or meditate during breaks. If the space is large enough for a group, stretching or yoga helps keep endorphin levels and morale high.
  • As a perk, employer-sponsored exercise and wellness programs often qualify for health insurance discounts.

Healthy Eating and Exercise at the Office

It’s so easy to grab something unhealthy to snack on or eat for lunch. Here’s a quick guideline for a healthy diet: 50% vegetables with some fruit, 25% lean protein, such as egg, fish or beans, and 25% starch or carbohydrates, such as quinoa or wholegrain pasta.

  • Employers can provide healthy snacks, including fruit and vegetables or nuts for the afternoon doldrums.
  • Start a friendly “biggest losers” competition based on group weight loss, or kick-start new year resolutions by encouraging employees to set fitness goals, such as committing to 30 minutes of exercise a day.
  • Winter weather tends to dry out the skin and lead to dehydration. Hand out water bottles and make sure there’s fresh filtered water available on every floor to keep employees hydrated, which may also improve their mood.

Employers can encourage employees to share recipes, exercise tips and mood-boosting habits with co-workers to help everyone get through the chilly days and improve office productivity. Getting out of the office for a bowling day or other activities also helps build team cohesion and raise morale. The possibilities are endless, and it can be fun for everyone to pitch their ideas.

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How to Help Your Employees Stay Productive in the Winter Months

Ups and downs are common with office workplace productivity. According to a study by Redbooth, a company that helps businesses get organized, winter is by far the least productive month. Only around 7 percent of all workers say they get their work completed daily in January and February. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to boost workplace productivity and keep your office active year-round.

Provide a Flexible Work Environment

Inclement weather, cold and flu season and winter boredom often increase the chance of absenteeism. Instead of traditional 9-5 office days, let employees work from home and even schedule their own work week. When it comes to creative tasks and projects, office workers tend to excel better from their home office than they do from a cubicle environment. Set a schedule to let certain groups work from home for a few days or a week at a time.

Utilize Light Therapy

In the warmer months, sunshine helps keep workers happy and motivated especially if the office is filled with a large open window. In winter, the benefits of outdoor activities and sunshine are often impossible due to poor weather conditions. To make up for this, add additional lighting into your office spec. Keep all lights operational, and consider adding light boxes at all workstations.

Encourage exercise

Exercise keeps you healthy and happy and makes it easier to cope with stress. It also keeps the mind sharp, improves sleep and improves your creative energy. By simply exercising 20 to 30 minutes per day, workers can maintain their productivity and reduce the chances of the winter blahs. Consider going for a short walk with coworkers after work, or organize a company fitness challenge with bonus checks or gift cards as a reward.

Stay Social

According to the Quills Group Office Solutions, 70 percent of employees say that having friends at work is extremely important and may be the key to interoffice unhappiness. In the same study, the results say that employees with workplace friend are three times as likely to show loyalty to their companies and are less likely to leave. Happy employees are productive employees, so try to keep employees happy by listening, addressing problems quickly and providing encouragement.

The winter blues can cause employee productivity to decline, but by paying attention and keeping workers happy, you might be able to avoid downtime.