How to Be There for Your Team During the Darkest Time of Year

Published On: November 29, 2023Categories: Blog

As we roll into December and approach the Winter Solstice, it’s time to acknowledge that we’re in the darkest days of the year… literally. Sunlight is a scarce resource, colder weather is descending on many parts of the world, and even our emotional worlds can start running a bit darker thanks to things like seasonal depression and tumultuous family relationships.

And while it isn’t your job as the boss to manage every person’s relationship with the darkest days of Winter, it is in your best interest to make sure you show up and Be There however you can for your team – it’ll help them feel better coming into work, build stronger relationships between you and your employees, and maintain your work output and standards during a time of year that can often cause its fair share of strain and difficulty.

Acknowledge that seasons affect people emotionally

The first step towards Being There for your team during this sometimes-tough season is by simply acknowledging that – yes – it does affect people differently, and to a notable degree!

For some people, the issue may be clinical: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD, also colloquially known as Seasonal Depression) is estimated to affect approximately 5% of the population and is likely linked to the decreased sunlight during darker Winter months. Like any type of depression, SAD can impact mood, physical energy, and productivity – the effects of which can cause real issues with work output and motivation.

For others, Winter can bring emotional difficulties: strained family relationships may cause added stress during holiday gatherings; the plethora of holidays in such a short timespan can mess with those who thrive on predictable schedules and workflows; even the cold itself can impact peoples’ ability to get out of the house and stay physically active or do their favorite self-care activities.

Regardless of the cause, simply offering an affirming presence and reminding your team that you’re here to work with them rather than against them can help those affected feel more motivated to keep up with their lives and their work.

Stay as flexible as possible during the Holiday Season

The holiday season can be a stressful time around the office. While having time off is something we often look forward to, the reality surrounding it can be anxiety-provoking: tight deadlines to finish up projects before taking time off, shifting PTO schedules to accommodate coverage needs, and big pushes to meet end-of-year company goals can all add stress and dysfunction to otherwise-smooth office life.

At the end of the day, the work needs to get done – but the more flexibility you can give your team for when and how the work gets done during this busy time, the more likely your team is to stay happy and content and do their best work. This flexibility can take a lot of forms: it could mean pushing back deadlines that aren’t as crucial; it could look like asking for volunteers to cover holidays rather than defaulting to assigning people those work days; it could even mean allowing flexible off-campus work policies to accommodate families who are traveling for the holidays.

It’s your job to determine what flexibility works best for your team and your company’s goals, but the more you’re able to provide, the more harmonious and productive the season will be.

Make dark days a bit brighter

One of the beauties of the FISH! Philosophy is that the core pillars all intertwine together – it’s hard to practice one without practicing another. In this case, Being There is tough to practice without also practicing Make Their Day – these small, unprompted moments meant to spark joy can add up to a sense that you’re really Being There for your team.

In the dead of Winter, Making Their Day can mean fighting the darkness – both figuratively and literally. Splurging on a higher-quality brand of coffee than usual or a SAD lamp for the break room can help make the winter darkness more survivable. And to counter the doldrums and stress, consider surprises like a catered lunch or a visit to the office from Therapy Animals. You don’t need to go all-out or blow your budget, but small gestures can really help bring people through their most stressful times.

Ideas to Reflect On:

  • Does winter weather or the holiday season stress you out? Even if the answer is “no,” consider how it may impact others in ways you don’t realize.
  • Does your office have policies (PTO-related, coverage-related, project-related) that could cause additional stress during this season? Can you relax some or all of those policies in a way that doesn’t impact output?
  • What’s one thing you can do this week to surprise and delight your team and Make Their Day?

Want to Implement FISH! in your organization?

Are you a leader?  Do you train others?  Do you want others to be leaders?

Charthouse Learning, the creator of the world-famous, award-winning, FISH! film is offering an in-person, 2-day workshop, interactive Train-the-Trainer lead by our Senior Trainer.

During our time together you’ll learn how to:

  • Share the motivation and foundation of FISH!
  • Introduce the FISH! film with the four practices.
  • Present the invitation to apply the practices in everyday interaction with others.
  • Build a sustainability and reinforcement program to transform the culture.
  • Pick up tips from other FISH! Philosophers and develop a strategy to embed the practices into the DNA of your culture.
  • Create an energized organization that is the “first choice” for employees, faculty, staff, leaders, and customers.

Plus, you will learn how to create a workplace where people choose to “be and bring” their best self everywhere, every day.

At the FISH! Train the Trainer you will:

  • Dive Deep: Discover The FISH! Philosophy – full of “A-ha!” takeaways and perspective-shifting realizations.
  • Transform: Make the four FISH! practices – Play, Be There, Make Their Day and Choose Your Attitude – an essential part of your professional and personal skill set.
  • Discover: Learn practical ways to apply the FISH! practices to improve teamwork, service, leadership, retention and performance.
  • Develop: Brainstorm strategies to embed The FISH! Philosophy into the DNA of your culture, strengthening your mission, vision and values.
  • Collaborate: Learn and laugh with like-minded folks from across the globe.

Click Here for More FISH! Train the Trainer Information

FISH! Starter Kit

The first step in a successful FISH! journey is a remarkable introduction. A FISH! Philosophy kickoff event:

  • Inspires people to find the joy they have been missing at work.
  • Teaches four powerful skills you can use immediately for team and personal success.
  • Unites team members to accomplish any goal.
  • Is incredibly fun . . . and people learn more when they have a good time!

The FISH! Starter Kit provides all the tools you need to plan and lead a great kickoff.

Click Here for More FISH! Starter Kit Information

Whether you work in business, education, or healthcare, FISH! offers accessible, intuitive solutions to empower your workers, bring your team together, and introduce Play into your organization. We invite you to contact us today at 800.695.4534 or to speak with our cultural specialists, who will help you find the right FISH! Philosophy solutions that will nurture your organizational culture and motivate your team!

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