The winter months often see staff attendance rates take a turn for the worse.  The winter bugs are out in force, coughs and sniffles can be heard throughout the office, and productivity is often seen to plummet.  Not to mention the miserable, grey weather that can make staying in bed seem much more appealing than the trek to work. The mild symptoms that most would ignore and work through on a cheerful sunny day always seem insurmountable when the great outdoors is at its most uninviting.  So how can employers battle these winter blues to keep staff motivated and ready for action, even in the depths of winter?

Healthy snack, healthy mind, healthy employees
At its most basic, healthy employees miss fewer days of work, so it makes sense for employers to support their staff in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Most businesses provide refreshments at work, including facilities to make hot drinks, which can be a comforting thing to help staff through a miserable day, and keep them hydrated and alert.  Beyond this, it is now increasingly common for businesses to provide fresh fruit as well, to ensure their staff as a healthy snack option available at a moment’s notice.  We all know we should be eating “5 a day”, but frequently abandon fruit for a sugar-packed option like a bar of chocolate.  Not only is this a bad choice in terms of health, it also affects productivity by causing a slump once the sugar high has passed, which affects concentration and productivity.  By providing fruit, employers can positively impact both staff health and work output.

an apple a day keeps the doctor away

Improve productivity using a boost of vitamin C

Fruit also supports the immune system when it comes to withstanding winter’s inevitable barrage of colds and flu.  We all know vitamin C is a powerful weapon against the dreaded cold and that it’s packed into many different types of fruit.  Keeping these bugs at bay is important for businesses because they not only cause staff to take time of sick, but even if they soldier on and come into work, these sorts of illnesses have a detrimental effect on productivity, so absent or present, the business suffers when staff are unwell.  Something as simple as the provision of fresh fruit can have a really significant impact on concentration, attention, attendance and work rates.

Beyond these fruity benefits, there are other ways that businesses can motivate staff and improve their wellbeing.  Some companies provide gym memberships, or contribute towards them, so that employees can maintain fitness levels all year round – it’s not always an option to go out running when the weather isn’t on your side.  As well as improving concentration and health, this will also make staff feel valued and demonstrate to the entire workforce that they are prioritised by the business.

With energy comes employee engagement
Perks like these, be they large or small, have a significant positive impact on staff morale.  Gestures that demonstrate staff appreciation make the workforce feel valued and important, which in turn promotes positive feeling towards the company.  This makes staff more inclined to work hard when they’re in the office and make an effort to come into work, even on days when it’s not that easy to get there! Schemes can actually be put in place to reward staff attendance levels, recognising those who go the extra mile, again making them more inclined to be in the office and resist the urge to feign a “sickie”.

Fight the winter nasty
To promote this attitude in a proactive and positive manner, some companies run wellbeing initiatives to keep staff on top form and ensure they know they are valued.  These can take many different forms, perhaps laying on masseurs in the office to maintain the healthy mind, healthy body mantra or providing a nutritionist to come in and present on different topics or run one-to-one sessions for those keen to learn more.  It is even becoming common for companies to set up a nurse to administer flu jabs at the expense of the business, to help staff resist this particular winter nasty.  Ultimately, it’s cheaper to do this than it is to have numerous employees laid low by a flu bug sweeping the office! Plus it maintains that all-important sense of appreciation, so that staff see their health and wellbeing is prioritised.

In short, investing in your employees’ health can help your bottom line, so it’s well worth taking time to consider initiatives that will help your business do just that.

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