Relatively speaking, is your workforce feeling down? Consider the general mood among your colleagues right now compared to, say, early December. What are the differences in their countenance, mood, and attitude? Do they have a little less pep in their step? Is their smile a little less pronounced? Are they a little less social? If you answered yes to these questions, you’re not alone.
Here in the thralls of wintertime, many of your employees are suffering from the post-holiday blues. Others are even worse off, battling seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Regardless of the reasons employees seem down, it can affect your organization’s ability to flourish. And chances are you really want to turn those frowns upside down.
A while back we wrote a list of 13 ways to stay positive at work. Today, we decided to add to that original list in hopes to give you a little extra help in your fight for a happy and positive workplace. To make it an even 20, here are seven more ways to stay positive at work.
1. Offer flexibility. Giving employees the flexibility and autonomy they desire (or demand) goes a long way towards creating a culture of positivity. By giving employees the benefit of the doubt, we encourage them to do the same with coworkers and employers. But be careful not to confuse kindness for flexibility. It’s become increasingly popular for employers to enforce shorter workweeks with intent to ensure “work-life balance,” but sometimes employers enforce these (seemingly kind) rules a little too harshly by forcing their people to leave (even if they’re not ready). Doing so can lead to employee anxiety—creating the very problem the policy is meant to overcome.
2. Provide variety. Every employee, no matter how rigid the routine of their job, needs the occasional diversion from the norm. To paraphrase an old line, all work and no variety makes for dull employees. Or as the Italian scholar, Petrarch, actually said, “Sameness is the mother of disgust, variety the cure.” Managers should take this into consideration as they assign out projects. Whenever possible, give employees a variety of projects that fit reasonably into the job duties. The amount of variety you can provide an employee will obviously depend on their role, but the principle remains and employees will be in better spirits when you keep things fresh.
3. Encourage collaboration. There are a lot of benefits of collaboration, but one of the most obvious is that it allows employees to work together. Working alone all day, whatever the activity, can lead to boredom and general malaise. However, interacting with employees forces us to open up and break out of any funk we may find ourselves in. Not to mention, when employees collaborate with people they like, they’re quick to lift each other when down—sometimes they lift, and sometimes they’re lifted. This is especially true when managers intentionally team up employees they know are good influences on each other.
4. Allow religious self-expression. Studies suggest it may be beneficial to let employees express their religious identity because, among other reasons, it’s a part of who they are, and stifling anybody’s ability to be themselves may lead to negative feelings and resentment. This is true of any self-expression, but religious self-expression is mistakenly discouraged more often than others. It’s important for management and HR to be proactive on the topic of religion and encourage all employees to maintain a healthy respect for other religions and beliefs. This happens by encouraging religious expression while strictly discouraging religious debate and persecution.
5. Have lunch together. It can be easy to only view coworkers as just that: workers. But when we share our breaks and lunches with each other, we see each other in a different light; we see each other as regular people. We have fun together, strengthen bonds, and become friends. That way, for example, when we return to work after a lunch break, we’re not just helping one of our coworkers get an assignment done; we’re helping a mother of two complete a project she’s put a lot of sweat and tears into so that she can make it to her son’s basketball game. See what I mean? By adding context to the lives of our coworkers, it’s much easier to have positive attitudes towards them.
6. Give frequent feedback. Employees need feedback, and they need it frequently. 94 percent of employees who receive positive recognition on a daily basis say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their organization. On the flip side, when employees feel left in the dark at work, they are left to their own imagination, and that can lead to paranoia and dissatisfaction. And never forget that one employee’s paranoia can spread to others like a cancer. Giving employees feedback and help regularly not only gives them the confidence they need to do good work, but it also helps avoid potential pitfalls that can lead to serious individual and team-wide problems.
7. Take sickness seriously. Encourage employees to take care of illnesses responsibly. This means that you take illnesses—and all their side effects—seriously. When employees are sick, encourage them to take the day off or let them work from home whenever possible. And never push employees too hard when they are under the weather. They’ll resent you for it, their work will suffer, and they’ll stay sicker for longer periods of time. On the flip side, when you are sympathetic to sick employees, they will be grateful, and their attitudes towards their colleagues and organization will be positive.
All year long, it’s important for HR to ensure that positivity prevails in the workplace. During the winter months, when moods are naturally down, it is nothing short of vital.