Tips and Advice ˙ Jan 10, 2018

Winter weather can be tough on Canadian workers

Winter weather can be tough on Canadian workers

Once the holiday season comes to an end and many workers across Canada return to their normal routines, there's a possibility that they're not going to be in the best of moods. Indeed, days with little sunlight, frigid temperatures and harsh winter weather can really take a toll on just about anyone, and that can have a negative impact in the workplace.

Today, 1 in 4 Canadians say January is the month when they're least happy, and more broadly, more than half say they're least happy in the winter weather overall, according to Accountemps. In addition, 56 percent of the poll's more than 500 respondents to the poll said that they feel winter weather has a negative effect on how they feel.

That, in turn, can have a negative effect on the ability of companies to keep up high levels of productivity, and it's something for which businesses likely need to start strategizing as soon as possible, the report said. The more companies can do to make sure workers are engaged and not too immiserated by the seasonal conditions, the better off both they and those employees will be. These efforts can include scheduling times when employees can get a little more active, investing in healthy snacks to make sure workers get all the nutrition they need, or have a chance to socialize with coworkers at this time of year.

"To maintain productivity managers must be cognizant of internal and external factors that may affect employee morale and performance," said David King, Canadian president of Accountemps. "Proactively working with teams to identify challenges and provide supportive resources can help mitigate any issues before they escalate or impact the business."

A common problem
Estimates show that as many as 35 percent of Canadians - more than 1 in 3 - suffer from the winter blues, also known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD, according to the CBC. Another 10 to 15 percent of Canadians have more mild but still similar seasonal depression. Common symptoms include fatigue, sadness and lethargy.

"This time of year, I get a lot more calls for services," Ottawa psychologist Laura Armstrong told the CBC. "[Sufferers] actually can be quite irritable. Other times they might just feel a sense of gloominess or feel really tired."

Armstrong recommends people dealing with seasonal depression or SAD set goals for themselves to maintain a positive attitude and focus on things they can look forward to, such as doing something they've always wanted to do but never been able to accomplish, the report said.

Taking the initiative
Fortunately for those struggling with SAD and seasonal depression, there are plenty of things they can do in their own lives to improve their mental health, according to Real Simple. For instance, using bright artificial lighting can be an effective way to dodge the dour feeling that comes with long, dark nights and cold, grey days. So too can eating certain types of food, including chocolate.

Likewise, the kind of mood improvers that work all year long still apply in the winter, the report said. For instance, exercising at least a few times a week can result in a serious improvement in mental health, especially when that exercise is conducted in bright spaces. Some workouts are better for a person's mood than others, and a little research into what works - and what makes sense for each individual - can go a long way for those suffering from mild or severe seasonal depression. This is also true of listening to "happy" music, so combining the right playlist with a good workout regimen could be especially helpful.

Other ways to stay safe
Of course, at this time of year it's not just about staying in good health mentally, because winter brings with it some physical hazards that can do some damage as well, according to the Canada Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. As such, it's vital for Canadians to make sure they know as much as possible about the weather conditions before they leave their home or office, so they will be able to put together a plan for how to proceed safely.

In addition, it's never a bad idea to brush up on basic winter preparedness by making sure a home has plenty of supplies in case the power goes out, and putting an emergency kit in their vehicles as well, the report said. Furthermore, using safe driving practices and common sense when the weather is treacherous will help to avoid potential for crashes and injury.

With all these issues in mind, there are plenty of reasons Canadians can have a safe and happy winter every year, as long as they know what they're getting into and how best to avoid some of the common pitfalls associated with the season.