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Keeping staff engaged in the winter months: 12 tips

It can be tough to keep employees engaged through the cold winter months, as many are struck down by colds, flus and the winter blues. Here are 12 practical ways to keep your team’s productivity up.

According to EI CEO Ben Thompson, colder weather takes a toll on employee motivation, engagement, and productivity.

“People spend more time indoors, get less exercise and see less of their friends. However, there are practical things employers can do to keep their team engaged and to help them come to work with a spring in their step,” he said.

Here are 12 ways to motivate employees through the upcoming winter months:

1. Recognise and reward employees for doing good work: Clearly identify your valued behaviours and goals, and appropriately reward teams and individuals. There are great rewards and recognition programs that give employees, supervisors and managers recognition for achievements frequently. Reinforcing positive behaviour also has a sustainable effect on engagement and productivity.

2. Plan for success from top to bottom: Work well with your colleagues if you want your employees to work well together. Develop a success plan with each employee or team in the company. Hold weekly, monthly or quarterly meetings to discuss plans and goals, and praise great work that is working towards achieving those goals.

3. Train your employees and keep them up to date with industry trends: Employees need to be equipped to handle their responsibilities competently. The right employee training, education and development results in greater contribution to the business, willingness to learn and develops productivity and loyalty.

Encourage and support extracurricular studies and learning. If budgets are tight, develop internal learning programs that draw on the expertise of your own team. When people are learning, they feel like they’re growing their personal value and making good use of their time.

4. Build a culture of employee appreciation: Cash incentives and public recognition, while nice, don’t always make your employees feel totally appreciated. Take some of your short-term morale boosters, like recognising good work with handshake and a smile, or idea sharing, and turn it into a business lifestyle.

Thanking employees face-to-face on a regular basis also helps improve their ability to accept constructive criticism.

5. Make the workplace comfortable: Make small adjustments to your lighting scheme and bring in fun desk lamps if you can’t banish the overhead fluorescent glare. Keep the office temperature at a comfortable level, and make sure all the technology needed to do the job is available and working.

6. Recognise special events in the lives of your people. Birthdays, weddings, births, the accomplishments of employees — if you have a reason to celebrate, do it. This could be as simple as buying a round of coffee for the morning shift.

7. Encourage idea sharing: Keep your employees informed about business developments so they feel like they contribute to broader goals.

8. Build a culture of trust: It’s essential to build and cultivate trusting business relationships for success and survival. Try this three-tiered approach to building trust with your employees:
–  Capability trust: let people make decisions, involve them in discussions, and trust in their opinions and input.
–  Contractual trust: keep agreements and manage employee expectations.
–  Communication trust: share information, provide constructive feedback and speak with good purpose about others.

9. Encourage work breaks: Work goes much faster when you are refreshed and ready to take on the assignment after a break and it keeps employees from getting stir crazy.

Have stubborn workaholics in your office? Make your breaks “mandatory.” Put out some treats in the office kitchen and call everyone over for a snack. It’ll get people interacting with their co-workers, and give everyone a much deserved break

10. Develop employee people “engines”: Strategically placing passionate and inspired individuals around your organisation to help keep other employees focused and happy is a great way to keep employees motivated. When you find people with these characteristics, use them wisely.

11. Have fun: Introduce quarterly themes into the business and reward staff with team building exercises. Be creative and create some friendly competition between colleagues.

12. Smile more: The social environment at work is a big contributor to burnout and the boss’s demeanour can directly affect staff as workers read the mood of the boss for clues about performance and job security. So, smile more often, talk about fun things like hobbies with employees, or crack a joke — just make sure it’s done in good taste.

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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