As the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, many people find themselves grappling with a phenomenon often referred to as “November depression” or “seasonal affective disorder (SAD).” This annual struggle with mood and motivation can extend beyond personal lives, affecting the workplace and employee well-being.
November depression, a subset of seasonal affective disorder, is characterized by a dip in mood and energy levels that typically occurs during the fall and winter months. The reduced exposure to sunlight, coupled with colder temperatures, can contribute to disruptions in circadian rhythms and the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin. This, in turn, may lead to feelings of lethargy, irritability, and even depression. The effects of November depression can spill over into the workplace, affecting employee productivity, engagement, and overall job satisfaction. Recognising these challenges and taking proactive steps to support your team can make a significant difference in maintaining a positive work environment.
Strategies to support employees over this dark time:
- Flexible schedules: Recognise that the changing seasons can impact individuals differently. Consider implementing flexible work schedules or remote work options, allowing employees to manage their workload in a way that suits their energy levels and personal circumstances.
- Wellness programmes: Implement wellness programs that focus on mental health. This could include workshops on stress management, mindfulness practices, and access to resources such as counseling services or Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs).
- Encourage breaks: Remind employees to take regular breaks and step outside for some fresh air and sunlight. Exposure to natural light can help regulate circadian rhythms and improve mood.
- Social connection: Foster a supportive and inclusive workplace culture. Encourage team-building activities, social events, or even virtual coffee breaks to maintain a sense of connection among team members.
- Employee recognition: Acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of your team. Regular recognition and positive feedback can boost morale and motivation, helping employees overcome the November blues.
- Provide resources: Share resources and information about November depression with your team. Let them know that it’s okay to seek help and that support is available.
- Promote a healthy Work-Life balance: Emphasize the importance of a healthy work-life balance. Discourage excessive overtime and encourage employees to prioritize self-care and personal time.