Header Contact

The winter wellbeing MOT

Traditionally a time of reward, socialising and celebration, the winter season is already very different this year and the third lockdown this winter seems to be having a greater impact on our mental health. So how can people professionals support their teams’ wellbeing over the next few months?

Here’s our winter mental wellbeing MOT checklist:

Mental health

We’ve all read how the pandemic is having an impact on our anxiety levels. As writer and GP Ann Robinson explains in this article, “In this pandemic year, the usual signs of depression and anxiety are difficult to tease out”.

Commons signs of poor mental health include states of anxiety, anger, sadness, low mood, emotional outbursts. People might talk about struggling with sleep or becoming fatigued. Then there are drops in performance or a general withdrawal from life.

Mental health training helps to build a manager’s confidence by giving them a process of how to approach a colleague they are concerned about. More importantly, it helps them define the boundaries of their role, which should be one of support rather than to fix the individual’s problem.

Use the winter time to top up employees training around mental wellbeing to help them manage their own mental health and resilience at this time.

Encourage self-care

By now we’re all used to remote working, but there’s still room to remind people to take care of themselves. This includes physical exercise, healthy eating and good sleep. Whether it’s meditating, taking time to read the paper or going for a walk – recognise self-care activities as being an important part of our daily lives and share ideas with your teams.

Be mindful of money worries

Winter is traditionally the time when family finances come under pressure. The Christmas celebrations often leave a money hangover by January. It is also when energy bills rise. The effects of homeworking are estimated to lead to an 18 per cent increase in home energy bills. Then there are the added pressures of redundancy or reduced pay schemes owing to the impact of the pandemic. Although a difficult conversation to have, it’s worth checking in to see how individuals are managing.  What is your business able to do either through financial support or signposting to tax relief claims?

Be flexible

People have a lot on their plates – employers and managers need to be empowered to respond flexibly. Those with young families are having to navigate school closures and those with students are dealing with university closures. Then there are others who are looking after elderly and vulnerable family members. Sometimes people are managing all three elements and more. With so much juggling, managers need to ensure their teams aren’t frazzled as a result.

Make sure your leaders acknowledge these conflicts, offer a listening ear and ways to support, like time off and flexibility to deliver work so that their tasks are delivered by people in a happy mindset.

Encourage people to get outside

Long dark nights and hours of electric light can really affect people who suffer from conditions like seasonal affective disorder. While the midwinter build-up brings Christmas cheer for many, some find the seasonal changes affect their mood and behaviours like sleep and eating. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects one in 15 people according to the NHS and can affect a person’s job performance among other day-to-day activities.

The exact cause of SAD is not fully understood but the main theory suggests a lack of sunlight stops a part of the brain called the hypothalamus from working properly.

If your employees work from home, how much access to natural light are they getting? Does your wellbeing programme extend to outdoor focused activities such as lunchtime walks and other outdoor challenges?

Organising team get-togethers? Avoid zoom fatigue

Many companies have been finding ways to virtually keep in touch with their staff away outside of work commitments. Be careful to avoid such activities becoming a glorified zoom call. From cook-a-longs to murder mysteries, there are many ways to keep people entertained in the virtual space.

So, this is our checklist, do you have anything to add?






Comments are closed.