Winter is Coming

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I sat down at my computer today and it suddenly hit me—this is the last week of August! Summer is almost over. For those who live in climates with distinct seasons, this can be a challenging time of year. Days are getting shorter, nights are getting colder and the remaining opportunities for backyard beer and barbecues are dwindling.

Lotus Carroll Summer Essentials: Sprinkler Karate, Flickr

Yes, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, “winter is coming.”

Of course winter has its own charms, I just can’t think of any right now.

And I’m not the only one facing the end of summer with a degree of angst. Two common themes often surface in the workplace at the end of summer: sadness and madness.  

Sadness is often experienced by those who pack a lot of summer fun into those few months that used to epitomize freedom from the restrictions of the school year. For these employees, as the days perceptibly shorten, energy and motivation often dips just because they hate to say goodbye to summer.

Madness is the state that often grips the parents of school-aged children who struggle to re-work schedules, re-stock backpacks and transport college-bound teens to dormitories that are (usually) way too far from home!  

The Impact of Seasonal Shift

Whether plagued by sadness or madness (or both), your employees and your workplace are bound to be impacted by this seasonal shift. In fact, one survey of 427 American workers conducted by Workplace Options and Public Policy Polling found the following:

  • Twenty-seven per cent of respondents said the start of a new school year negatively affected the moods, attitudes or schedule availability of their co-workers.
  • Thirty-five per cent expect back-to-school preparations to produce additional financial or personal stress in their own lives.
  • Sixty-three per cent of workers said the start of a new school year adds stress to co-workers who are working parents.

It’s not just workers with school-aged children who experience stress (or distress) when summer draws to a close. The end of summer often means a long stretch of time before the next vacation. It also mean less daylight for the next six to eight months and daylight matters, since it impacts both mood and productivity. Research has found that insufficient daylight negatively impacts productivity and may even leave workers in "biological darkness."[1]

What Can Employers Do to Help?

Here are a few things that employers can do to help people deal with the stress of seasonal change as summer fades:

  • Listen: Encourage employees to talk about it, either to a manager, a colleague or an EAP counsellor. Often just being heard is enough to reduce anxiety and stress.
  • Be flexible: Provide flexible work schedules to help your employees through the seasonal transition: consider split shifts for those who really crave time outside while the weather holds; get creative for the parent who can’t find a caregiver to cover the last two hours of the workday when school lets out at 3:00 pm.
  • Give people something to look forward to: Consider instituting an end-of-summer celebration, or providing a small “back to school” discretionary allowance that employees can use to purchase something for their desk (or to buy school supplies for their kids). 
  • Get physical: The same benefits that daylight provides to the endocrine system can be duplicated by physical activity, so implement a physical activity program at work.


Help keep your people connected and engaged in all seasons with social HR software from NetSuite TribeHR. Start your free trial today.

[1] Figueiro, M.G., Rea, M.S., Stevens, R.J., Rea, A.C. Daylight and productivity – A possible link to circadian regulation. 

Hiring Without Bias is Harder Than You Think

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In our recent series on Achieving Workplace Diversity, we examined how recruiters, hiring managers and interviewers can build certain practices into their process to support sourcing a more diverse mix of qualified candidates and ultimately reflecting greater diversity in their hiring. One of the challenges we didn’t address in the series is the impact of unconscious bias. Photo by Piutus, Flickr At each stage of the hiring process, a candidate (or a candidate’s resume) is subject to the filters and perceptions of those responsible for deciding who moves forward and who does not. Regardless of all …

10 Things You Should Never Do in a PowerPoint Presentation

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PowerPoint is still the most commonly used presentation software on the market. While interesting new entrants like Prezi are attracting some passionate followers, for over 20 years, most of us have turned to PowerPoint when we need to put together a slide deck. As an application, it allows you to do everything you need to do in creating an effective presentation. Unfortunately, it also comes with enough bells and whistles to lead you down the path to presentation hell. No doubt you’ve experienced some painful PowerPoint presentations in your time. If you want to be known as someone who …

Two Approaches to Calculating Bonuses

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There are a lot of traditions surrounding the distribution of bonuses ranging from timing to eligibility, from merit to patronage, from celebration to stomach ulcers. The less pleasant traditions are usually a result of poorly defined structure or “bias bonuses” that reward people based on favoritism and politics rather than contribution. Photo by Frédéric Bisson, Flickr To ensure that bonus time creates a positive tradition in your organization, here are two vastly different approaches that strive to address common bonus time inequities. The Standard Approach The annual bonus is a common approach used by …

Creating a Path for Growth

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 Photo Credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli, Flikr Research shows that one of the most important attractors in a job search (and one of the strongest incentives for existing employees to stay with an organization), is the availability of growth opportunities. At the same time, company structures are becoming flatter, with fewer levels of management and less hierarchy. These increasingly horizontal organizational structures have resulted in more lateral movement and “cross training” to support career development aspirations. Some people find scaling the “career lattice” more satisfying than the traditional approach to climbing the corporate ladder. But there …

3 Things HR Can Learn from Great Customer Service

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More than anything else, great customer service is about respect: respect for the customer as an individual,  respect for the customer’s time and respect for the customer’s point of view—even when it seems off base. It’s Not About You Variations of the statement: “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” have been attributed to Theodore Roosevelt and John C. Maxwell, among others. This phrase has been used time and again to illustrate a fundamental principle in leadership, sales, and customer service. The same …

Brain Health and Workplace Performance

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Although there’s a lot of evidence that brain health is improved when a mind remains active and challenged; increasingly, research shows that mental downtime is even more important. In his article in Scientific American, Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime, Ferris Jabr writes: Brain Health by Dan Century, Flikr “Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life. “ Some research suggests the brain’s ability to make sense of …

Are Leadership Skills Transferable?

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Adapted from Nelson Mandela by BK, Flickr I recently became involved in a discussion of community leadership and how it differs from the type of leadership that businesses want to cultivate in their managers and executives. During this discussion, we brainstormed some of the traits that a community leader must have to be successful. We agreed on these: Integrity – has to walk the talk Sensitivity to the issues of multiple stakeholders An understanding of the political landscape that influences decisions Honest concern for the constituents they serve at an individual level The ability to cultivate alliances and build rapport …

Presentation Skills - Using the Tools of the Speakers Trade

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In spite of our increasingly digital world, the need for effective presentation skills has never been greater. Whether you’re conducting training online, creating in-house video content for your blog, or presenting the results of a project to your colleagues—strong presentation skills help. In his blog, 5 reasons you need great presentation skills, speaking coach, Mark Kyte, identifies these benefits you’ll realize by polishing your speaking skills: Orator by southtyrolean, Flickr Gain respect from colleagues Build your reputation within the industry Impress senior management Sell [more effectively] to your customers Gain confidence to stretch yourself …

Communication: Words Matter

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We use words every day: in conversation, when presenting to an audience or when we craft an important email. And the words we use matter. Much has been made of the fact that facial expressions, body language and tone of voice contribute greatly to the message we communicate. So much so, that we may forget the importance of the words themselves. Assuming that the intent of any communication, whether written or spoken, is to convey a message and connect in some way, the specific words we use can help or hinder. Use the Right Words One of the more common …

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The Latest from Workplace Tribes
Winter is Coming August 27, 2014
Hiring Without Bias is Harder Than You Think August 25, 2014
10 Things You Should Never Do in a PowerPoint Presentation August 22, 2014
Two Approaches to Calculating Bonuses August 20, 2014
Creating a Path for Growth August 18, 2014
3 Things HR Can Learn from Great Customer Service August 15, 2014
Brain Health and Workplace Performance August 13, 2014
Are Leadership Skills Transferable? August 11, 2014
Presentation Skills - Using the Tools of the Speakers Trade August 08, 2014
Communication: Words Matter August 06, 2014