How to boost morale during the winter

With thanks to Chris Smith for this article.

Lack of daylight when it’s dark before you get home, cold, rainy weather and the rush in the run-up to Christmas can get the best of us down, and a stressed employee is not a productive or happy member of the team. Thankfully there are plenty of small touches you can provide as an employer or manager to boost morale. It can go a long way when you show that you care, so try some of these easy to implement, low cost ideas and reap the rewards.

Simple Freebies and Perks
Freebies are a surprisingly effective morale booster considering the fact that they often don’t require that much effort!

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Hot Drinks & Vitamins For Flu Season:  
Many offices offer hot drinks facilities and free teas and coffees, but why not take it a step further – free fruit is a nice winter perk to make it easier for your team to stay healthy, especially during flu season. Perhaps even start keeping a few basic flu-fighting supplies such as Strepsils and Lemsip to hand to save someone who’s feeling a bit under the weather a trip into the cold to stock up. Another easy but much-appreciated thing to offer during the colder and wetter months is a few company umbrellas (consider branding them to make it easier to keep track!) for people to borrow when nipping down to the shops at lunch.


Surprise Treats:
Everyone loves comfort food in winter, especially in the run-up to Christmas. Consider adding hot chocolate or fancy coffee syrups to the hot drinks roster for a month or two, or surprising everyone with extra-indulgent hot chocolate – go all out with squirty cream and marshmallows and bring in some mince pies or Christmas biscuits to brighten a Monday or Hump day, or as a as a special Friday treat. If you want to go down a slightly more extravagant route, a surprise breakfast with pancakes and all the toppings, pastries and other goodies will definitely brighten up your next progress meeting.


Christmas Count Down:
We may not always admit it, but adults love a good Advent calendar as much as any kid – especially if it contains something a bit more exciting than a festively-shaped chocolate. Depending on the number of people in your office, department or team, an office Advent calendar with little goodies for everyone might go down well– think miniature bottles, hand creams, tiny boxes of chocolates, chutneys, fancy teas and more. These can be hidden inside a refillable Advent calendar, each person is assigned a number and hey presto!


Happy Hour:
Workplace friendships have been proven to reduce stress, and everyone loves a free drink – so organising an office happy hour where the company supplies a few drinks and allows everyone to finish slightly earlier to mingle with their co-workers from other departments is bound to go down well! It might even lead to some new friendships being formed, which in turn could lead to collaboration further down the road, but since happy employees work better it’s a win-win situation regardless. You might find that people appreciate being able to do this outside of the more formal setting of a Christmas lunch or office party, and you could build it into the company culture to take place monthly or several times a year if your budget allows it.


Revamp the Office Noticeboard:

Get a separate noticeboard for that list of fire safety officers and make this one all about your team: think photos of pets, a funny baby photo of each team member, thank you cards/printouts of thank you emails, good reviews, kids’ drawings, funny comics, postcards, achievements (not just work-related, but personal too, such as a team member running a 10k or finishing a part-time degree ), a list of bank holidays to look forward to and more, the goofier the better. Some offices also have “rules” such as bringing back a mandatory hideous fridge magnet from a holiday to add to the kitchen décor, so why not get some input from your colleagues to see if they can think of other fun ways to add colour to the place!


Decorate your Space:
Try some decorations or flowers and wait for an inevitable mood boost – no need to go full-blown Pinterest, but a little extra cheer can easily be added by adding some colourful prints and rustling up a few pot plants (real or fake, though real ones provide the added benefit of helping improve the air quality, which can be a godsend in a stuffy office with the heating on!) Halloween and Christmas decorations always brighten up a space, and letting everyone pitch in with hanging them up offers a welcome and entertaining quick break. You could even make it into a competition between different departments to add a little incentive!


Warm lighting:
Especially in winter when there is so little daylight, fluorescent strip lighting can be rather grim, and a strain for the eyes to boot. If your office still has that lovely glare to it, now is the time to rethink upgrading them at last – both your team and eyes will thank you!

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Friendly competitions where everyone bets £1 on an assigned contestant for Bake Off/Strictly Come Dancing/The Apprentice or whatever TV show your office is currently hooked on are a fun way to get people more engaged, not to mention a pleasant diversion that’s very easy to set up! It’s also quite a versatile concept: for example if sports are more your team’s thing then the sweepstakes could be based on a current sporting event or countries participating in a tournament.


Give something back as a team:
Set aside some time to do something for charity together (or start planning it for the warmer months!)
Instead of just wearing a Christmas jumper and donating £2, try something more involved:

  • Organise a bake sale (e.g. for Children in Need in November or a cause your team cares about),
  • Collect items for the Shoebox Appeal and sort and pack them together
  • Donate your business’ specific skills to a local cause or as an auction item or raffle prize for a charity event
  • Donate Christmas dinner or essential items for a local food bank and help them sort and distribute it

These are just a few ways you can improve morale in your office this winter – perhaps you’ll be inspired to implement and adapt some of them, or even come up with your own!