Winter is coming: what to do next.

Winter is coming! Try to say it using your best Sean Bean impersonation. Even those living under rocks, or with their heads firmly buried in the sand, will not have escaped to notice the hard truth that it is going to be one of the toughest winters in living memory.

In the UK Autumn is often a romantic season, a time of transition, as the leaves turn shades of golden brown and red before they fall from the trees… That is of course before being turned in to squelchy mush by the perpetual drizzle making the pavements treacherous. At least we won’t have to wait on the platform as we’re informed that a single leaf on the line has brought the entire rail network to a grinding halt.

The reality of this year is that many of the traditions that help us get through the British winters are likely to be far less appealing, if even possible in 2020/21. Lazy weekends in the pub, trips to the cinema, visits to see family, Halloween, Bonfire Night, German Markets…

2020 has served up its fair share of challenging circumstances, no part of our world has been left untouched, but it seems the biggest challenge for many is yet to come.

In normal years we would be concerning ourselves with peoples’ wellbeing, worrying about SAD, we’d be trying to help people budget for seasonal expenses, increased fuel bills, religious holidays and trying to help them to keep exercising and promoting gym memberships.

With people stuck at home, little chance for relief and having to self-isolate for fourteen days every time they get a cough or sniffle, your colleagues are going to need you to be more creative and supportive than ever before.

So how can you help?

SAD Is going to have a huge impact on employees this year, many of the factors that help people deal with or avoid SAD have been removed, and people will be feeling more helpless and less hopeful than ever before.

Here are a few ideas to get you started;

  • Encourage people to avoid emails and pick up the phone or set up a zoom, it’s not the same as face to face interaction, but it will help people to connect on a more personal level, and avoid people feeling overwhelmed by an ever growing inbox, at a time when they’re already struggling.
  • Empower managers; seasonal parties may be off the agenda this year, but impromptu care packages to coincide with team video calls, can add a bit of fun and show colleagues that they matter.
  • Reward and Recognise people; little and often is the key, £5 on a Coffee Shop voucher goes a long way, if nothing else it reminds people the world outside is still turning. However, perhaps try to avoid times when they are in isolation. If you have policies in place, you may consider lowering expectations, telling managers to recognise people at every opportunity possible.
  • Set up walking challenges, share progress in groups, use it as an opportunity to raise money for charities.
  • Just because people are working from home, doesn’t mean you can’t have pumpkin carving competition, costume days and Bake Off challenges (although I expect judging for flavour may be more subjective).

Whereas in years gone by, many people focus on holidays as a source of hope to get them through the winter, dreaming of sunnier times, in 2020/21 our hope comes from the Scientists developing vaccines.

With most commentators expecting a vaccine in the first half of 2021, now is the time to consider what people will most want from their employee benefits next year.

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With many people having not been on a proper holiday for two years, they are already desperate to get away. However, holidays are likely to be more expensive than ever. Travel Accounts help employees to make holidays more affordable, with zero cost form employers.

Holidays make people happier, healthier and more productive. Get in touch to see how we can help.