Winter Wellness: Keeping Your Staff Healthy and Productive

Winter wellness

Icy roads, sub-zero temperatures, colds, and flu cause many absences from work during the winter months. Long nights and short sunless days make many people gloomy, reducing productivity and morale. Employee wellness is linked to business success, making it vitally important to consider the health and well-being of workers during cold weather. The following are some tips, strategies, and information for keeping your staff healthy and productive during Canada’s brutal winter. 

How Does Cold Weather Affect Workers?

The bitter temperatures and low sunlight of Canada’s winter can result in:

  • Feeling low (despair, depression, sadness, listlessness, agitation, anxiety)
  • Reduced energy 
  • Irritability 
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Food cravings/weight gain
  • Decreased productivity
  • Loss of interest in one’s work
  • Body aches and pains
  • Lowered immune response
  • Increased absenteeism from work

The Benefits of Enhancing Workplace Wellness

Taking the time and making an effort to ensure workplace wellness results in:

  • Increased employee morale
  • Improved worker engagement
  • Reduced staff turnover
  • Maintenance of company reputation
  • Increased productivity 
  • Organized, timely workflow
  • Reduced absenteeism 
  • Lower employee stress levels
  • Improved teamwork
  • Improved ability to attract top talent

How to Keep Staff Healthy and Productive During Winter

There are many steps you can take to promote healthy, productive staff, even during the cold months. 

  • Encourage employees to remain home when sick: Taking time at home speeds recovery and reduces the spread of illness among staff. If possible, provide workers with paid sick time. 
  • Allow for flexible/alternate work options: Consider allowing staff to work from home when exhausted and/or under the weather, enabling employees to continue to produce while accommodating their needs and reducing the spread of germs.
  • Improve indoor air quality: Commercial air purifiers remove bacteria, viruses, and microbes that contribute to illness, reducing infection and transmission and lowering allergic responses.
  • Promote exercise: Regular exercise (including simply walking) is a critical factor for wellness, increasing cognitive function, boosting creativity, and reducing fatigue. Educate staff regarding the benefits of exercise and provide incentives (company activities, gym memberships, classes, etc.) 
  • Improve lighting: Exposure to natural light strengthens the immune system, increases serotonin (a mood regulator), improves sleep, relieves pain, promotes relaxation, increases alertness, decreases stress, reduces depression, has cardiovascular benefits, and increases job satisfaction. If possible, let the sunlight in and/or use lightbulbs that recreate the feeling of sunlight.
  • Organize office events that support physical/mental health, enhance productivity, improve creativity/problem-solving, enhance relationships, and support company culture (quizzes, volunteering, desk yoga, mindfulness sessions, stress-reduction workshops, etc.).
  • Provide healthy snacks: Healthy eating contributes to well-being. Stock your coffee/break room with healthy snack alternatives (protein bars, fruit, nuts, yogurt, granola, dark chocolate, etc.) that provide energy, promote sustained productivity, and increase creativity. 
  • Undertake periodic check-ins: To promote staff wellness, occasionally check in to determine their needs. Ask about feelings, their work-life balance, and how you can support them. 
  • Encourage communication: Ensure staff know who to speak to if they have a problem and where to go for support regarding their wellbeing. 
  • Consider a buddy system: A well-organized office buddy system boosts confidence, enhances morale, increases retention, improves productivity, and provides support.
  • Encourage fresh air breaks: Short breaks in the fresh air can improve productivity, reduce anxiety, boost creativity, increase focus, and improve health. Encourage your staff to take a few minutes of their break time in the fresh air. 
  • Invest in plants: Adding plants to the office boosts concentration, increases satisfaction, lowers absenteeism, purifies the air, and reduces noise levels. Employees who work in the presence of plants are 15% more productive. 
  • Reward/recognize staff: Showing recognition improves the mood, motivation, and morale of staff. It increases productivity and retention. Workers claim that personal recognition encourages them to produce better work more often. Establish a system for recognizing workers for good work and dedication. Ensure the system is equitable, authentic, and embedded in company culture. 
  • Improve Safety/hygiene: Provide hand sanitizer and disinfectants to assist in maintaining clean surfaces. Ensure restrooms are regularly sanitized. Use signage to remind staff of the importance of hygiene practices.


As temperatures drop and hours of sunlight diminish, so too can employee productivity, health, and engagement. If your staff are struggling, provide ideas and support to assist them. Considering your employee’s health and well-being is good for the bottom line. 

Want help creating and maintaining a robust team for your business? Looking for an innovative, reliable, collaborative staffing agency? Contact Equation Staffing Solutions for an array of staffing, software, and payroll solutions.