Keeping morale high during the autumn months
For many people, the end of daylight saving time is an indication that autumn has arrived, a time when the seasonal shift and colder weather can leave staff feeling less motivated than usual. Thankfully, there are several steps you can take as an employer to ensure spirits and productivity levels remain high even as the temperature drops.
As the days become shorter, employees making the morning commute are likely to be arriving in the dark. This can impact alertness and employees may need longer to get into their stride as the day progresses. With this in mind, you may consider avoiding any prolonged or arduous activities at the beginning of the day. This includes any large team meetings, which commonly take place first thing in the morning. Alternatively, consider replacing these with brief and concise ‘buzz meetings’ that focus solely on essential information and are designed to get staff engaged in the morning and ready for the day ahead.
It is not uncommon for employees to use a large amount of paid annual leave during the summer months, leaving many with little opportunity to take a break from work until the New Year. This can often affect employee morale, however methods such as introducing performance targets and providing inexpensive perks as rewards may offer a welcome break from the standard working routine, helping to motivate staff and increase productivity.
The colder weather can unfortunately create significant health issues and you should listen carefully to any employee complaints regarding temperature, ensuring central heating remains operational and that temperatures are reasonable at all times. After all, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states workplace temperatures must be at least 16 degrees, or 13 degrees if much of the work involves physical effort.
You should specifically look out for employees who may be adversely affected by the low temperatures, such as those who are pregnant or suffer from a disability, and make reasonable adjustments to remove any disadvantages. Adverse weather may also affect travel to and from the workplace, with heavy rain in particular often disrupting car journeys and public transport. Allowing staff to work from home in these circumstances may be a significant benefit, both to the business, and to staff, as it will ensure workers do not miss out on a day’s pay for being absent from work.
Another impact of the weather becoming less inviting is that staff will be less inclined to go outside on their lunch breaks. As such, it may be beneficial to ensure that any staff rooms or ‘break areas’ are up to scratch. After all, having a clean and relaxing environment in which all staff are able to enjoy their lunch will help preventing the unhealthy practice of ‘working through lunch’ which can lead to instances of burnout.
With the above in mind, it is important to remain willing to engage in open communication with staff and sympathetic towards any issues that appear to be affecting their morale. After all, a happy workplace is often a more productive workplace, therefore is pays to keep morale high and help staff adapt to the change in season.