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Winter Blues Threatening Productivity

  • Two in five (38%) workers admit they are less motivated during the winter months
  • One in five (22%) say they are less productive at work during winter, with the same proportion saying the same of their colleagues
  • Flexible working (33%) and duvet days (26%) are cited by employees as key to maintaining wellbeing and productivity in winter


Employers struggling with business productivity will be relieved to see to see the end of winter, according to new research from Canada Life Group Insurance that suggests the shorter days and poorer weather leave many workers demotivated and unproductive.

Two in five (38%) workers admit they are less motivated during the winter months, with almost half (42%) saying getting up and going home in the dark demotivates them.

Meanwhile, one in five (22%) agree they are less productive at work and the same proportion (22%) say the same of their colleagues. This decline in productivity levels during winter could well have a negative impact on overall business performance over the course of the rest of the year.


Workplace environment blamed for poor productivity

Around one in seven (14%) employees blame the workplace environment for poor productivity during winter, rising to 17% for office-based workers.

Half of workers (47%) also admit the office negatively affects them in some way during winter. Office workers are more likely to be negatively affected by a lack of natural light (29%) and cold temperatures (25%) in their working environment during winter than people who work from home (17% and 19% respectively).


Employee health takes a hit in winter

Employees that remain healthy – both physically and mentally – are more likely to contribute positively to overall business productivity, but in the winter months, employee health takes a hit.

Two in five (37%) workers admit they put on weight during winter, while a third (34%) find it harder to exercise. Despite the promise of the New Year and the deluge of gym and fitness membership deals promoted in January, just 9% of workers are motivated to start a new fitness regime during the winter months.

Bad weather during the winter also discourages more than half (56%) of workers from taking breaks outside during the working day, which means that they don’t reap the benefits of fresh air, natural light or the opportunity to stretch their legs.


Improving productivity in winter

Employees most frequently cited flexible working (33%) and “duvet days” (26%) – an unscheduled extra day’s leave from work – as key to maintaining wellbeing and productivity in winter.

Employees also point to other initiatives, such as fresh fruit (25%), subsidised gym memberships (15%) and free resources on maintaining wellbeing (15%) that employers could offer in the workplace to benefit their health. One in ten (9%) say access to an Employee Assistance Programme would improve their wellbeing and productivity.


Paul Avis, Marketing Director of Canada Life Group Insurance, comments:

“In a year plagued by economic uncertainty, businesses will want to do everything in their power to register a strong performance. They will surely be concerned that productivity amongst their workforce takes a direct hit during winter.

“As we approach spring, businesses should review their performance and identify policies and initiatives which could futureproof the negative impact of winter on productivity. A comfortable working environment and effective wellbeing support is key to keeping staff happy, healthy and productive and is entirely in the gift of an employer.

“Employee Assistance Programmes are a great tool for employers to meet this need. They can provide practical support on a daily basis with tips and strategies to manage motivation and mindset, and reinforce the message that employers care about their staff.”