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Don’t stress: 6 tips for a healthy and productive Q1

By Maha Elley, Revolut Contributor

As a business owner, you’re probably well aware January can be low on workplace cheer. Let’s face it, returning to work after the holidays can feel like more of a struggle on a dark and frosty morning.

It’s a well-known fact that happier employees make for a more productive workplace.  Data has shown that work-related stress and conditions related to poor mental health are the leading cause of sick days in the UK. The prospect of combating workplace stress can be daunting – the last thing you want is for stress management to become a stressful task in itself.

To get you started on the right foot, we have some top tips for helping you and your team develop some life-long healthy workplace habits:

1. Encourage your team to get enough sleep

Did you know that poor sleep can increase stress levels by up to a third? With our increasingly hectic lifestyles and work pressure, sleep seems to be taking a bit of a backseat. However, it’s incredibly important to get adequate snooze time if you want to ward off those January blues.

The age-old advice of ‘getting a good night’s sleep’ is oft-repeated for a reason. A good night of steady slumber is oh-so-important for our performance at work. Contrary to what many people may think, sleeping fewer hours won’t help you get more done - it’ll actually make you less productive the following day. It’s recommended that you get at least 7-9 hours sleep so you can arrive at work with the energy you need to tackle the tasks ahead - and actually enjoy them.

As a business owner, how exactly can you get involved with just how much your employees snooze? Here are a few small steps you can take:

  • Stress the importance of sleep by discouraging employees from sending late night emails.
  • Send out well being-related emails with stats and facts on how productivity and mood are linked to proper rest.
  • Keep a close eye on your team’s workload to make sure they’re not taking on more work than they can handle.
  • Offer flexible working options when needed - there are benefits aplenty.  

2. Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (also often referred to as SAD) shouldn’t be dismissed. Although you can get it any time of the year, it’s most likely to hit during winter and may be at its peak in late January.

So, how does SAD manifest itself at work? Well for one, it can make it even tougher to get out of bed in the morning. It can reduce energy levels and affect focus or concentration on tasks.

Although your employees may need to seek professional treatment for serious cases of SAD, as an employer, it helps to be more sensitive to the issue during this time of the year. Here’s how you can help:

  • SAD is often linked to the lack of natural light during this time of the year. Encourage your employees to get outdoors during their breaks or to take a quick stroll at a convenient point during the workday.
  • A study of working professionals revealed that me-time is essential for the mental well-being of working professionals. Encourage your employees to take time for self-care. This could be something as simple as an outdoor walk rather than lunch at your desk.
  • Offer flexibility for any employees that may need to squeeze in counselling session or work from home occasionally to care for their mental health.

3. Encourage goal setting

By this time in the year, many people may already be flagging on their New Year’s resolutions. Motivate your team to achieve their professional goals by setting up a one-to-one meeting where you can discuss and set clear goals for the year ahead. Research has shown that having goal clarity can be hugely motivating. And who knows? Simply writing down a list of goals may help energise an employee and give them the boost they need to kick off their year with extra drive.

4. Recognise employees and implement regular one-to-ones

A recent National Employee Research Survey showed that  over 90% of employees feel that recognition is important at work. Use your one-to-one meeting as an opportunity to recognise the great efforts that your team has put in the past year and thank them for it. You can also introduce an employee incentive scheme to recognise and reward hard working employees in the future.

A January one-to-one meeting is also a good time to let your staff members know that they’re supported before they get stuck into a new year of work. But don’t just stop there. Schedule consistent meetings throughout the year to keep the dialogue going and give your employees a regular opportunity to communicate directly with you about any issues.

5. Communicate

Don’t underestimate the power of an open and communicative work culture. Foster an environment where open dialogue is encouraged. Make it clear that stress or anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of so your team feels more comfortable with sharing.

Although many employees may not be too keen to share their lack of motivation with their boss, encourage them to open up by sharing your own struggles. The more approachable and relatable you are, the more likely it is that your team will feel relaxed in your presence.

6. And when all else fails, order team Deliveroo

Trust us, a little mid-workday treat can go a long way. A simple lunch break can provide some much needed away-from-keyboard time and give the team an opportunity to connect. Try ordering your team Deliveroo for a surprise pick-me-up that’ll fill ‘em up. It’s simple but highly effective!

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We hope the above tips will help you and your team start the quarter feeling happy, healthy and productive. We know that your investment in your team will pay off in dividends – never underestimate the power of great leadership and a motivated workforce.

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