Winter Wellness for Employees

Gemma Doyle


EHS Consultant


Well, it’s that time of the year again, where you may hear a chorus of sniffles and coughs as you walk through any workplace (and if you are like me, hold your breath and hope you don’t catch what they have!)

As an employer, you want a happy, healthy workforce and I am pretty sure you don’t like getting those 9 am phone calls when one or more of your employees is ringing in sick with the dreaded flu or some other winter virus.

There is no magic cure that I can sell you to keep every single one of your employees healthy this winter season! However, having a plan that can help reduce absenteeism in your workplace over the winter season, can help keep productivity up and absenteeism down.

Did you know that December, January and February are the most common months for people to call in sick? The good news is, you still have time to put a plan together.

Some ideas for your Winter Wellness programme for your workplace

Wash your hands! – Such a simple thing right? Wash them and wash them right! A quick rinse under the cold tap is just not going to cover it, especially during the winter season, when there are so many things going around! A reminder to all employees about the importance of this would do no harm. Maybe some posters in the washrooms?

Hand Sanitisers – We see them in most public buildings now. How about installing a few of these in some of your main areas? Wall mounted dispensers in areas like the canteen, by the toilet or exit doors are perfect locations for stopping those germs. Another idea may be to install UVC hand dryers in the toilets. The blue light emitted along with the warm air is ultraviolet rays, which eliminate microbial organisms that can grow on wet surfaces.

Get moving! – We all know how hard it can be to motivate ourselves and exercise, especially this time of the year. In the winter, adults are more likely to sit for long periods of time than they are in the summer. Encourage employees to get outside during lunch for a quick walk. Maybe you could run a competition where employees can submit their number of steps.

Be Safe be Seen! – Make sure to promote be safe, be seen by those people who are taking part in outdoor exercise. Educate employees about how important it is be seen on these dark mornings and evenings. Encourage them to wear bright clothing and hi visibility vests, stick to well lit footpaths and roads and where possible exercising with friends.

Healthy Eating – Well, this should be all year round, but, just like the exercise, when the nights are long and cold, its much easier to grab something unhealthy and comforting rather than something nutritious and healthy! Eating fruit and veg is a great way to build up your immune system, in particular, did you know that citrus fruits are rich in Vitamin C, which boosts your natural defences. Make it easy for your empoyees during work time, by providing them with healthy options in the employee canteen (if you have one) How about offering a healthy fruit salad for lunch or a smoothie option for breakfast? Talk to your service provider, I am sure they will have lots of great ideas.

Photo by <a href="">engin akyurt</a> on <a href="">Unsplash</a>
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Winter Blues – Winter blues are real. Many people suffer this time of the year with the lack of daylight. SAD stands for Seasonally Adjusted Disorder and it is most common with these months of the year. Dark mornings and dark evenings can really take its toll on employees. Your body clock can get a bit out of balance and this in turn can affect your sleeping patterns and then your energy levels, which can then affect your earing habits. The experts claim that we should have a least 20 minutes of sunlight every day as it will help the mood balancing hormones and stimulate the brain (that’s why the lunchtime walk is a good idea) As its not always possible to get out (think rain!), then you could consider investing in a SAD lamp for your workplace. For employees who may already be struggling with their mental health, this time of the year can be especially difficult. Make sure these employees get the support they need and ensure all employees have access to your EAP scheme if you have one.

Its not all doom and gloom though! Once your health and wellness are looked after there are plenty of things to look forward to and enjoy around this time of the year. Like cosy socks after a rainy walk, a chocolatey hot chocolate on an icy day, blue skies and winter sun! Stay safe, stay well and make the most out of these winter months.

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