Do you notice a dip in productivity as the new year begins? For many companies, the first quarter is a time for implementing new business plans. Even if you’re not making major changes, though, you can’t afford a slip in employee productivity as the world goes back to work after the holidays.

But did you know there’s an actual condition that hampers people’s ability to work efficiently when winter sets in? According to Cleveland Clinic, about half a million people in the U.S. suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Symptoms include decreased energy, irritability and restlessness, difficulty concentrating and a general lack of focus. Fortunately, there are ways to directly approach the issue of SAD as a company and energize your workplace during this time:

  • Start off strong. Some companies hold kick-off events to introduce new business initiatives and review results from the previous year. This is a good time to recognize achievements and remind the workforce of their value to your business. Try being innovative when planning this event. Having a breakfast meeting with a presentation is rather humdrum, so why not try a different type of venue and have your work groups do their own video presentations of results from the prior year? The meeting could be interspersed with fun activities or a team lunch.
  • Offer wellness initiatives. The new year is a perfect time to start an employee wellness program. Making lifestyle changes to encourage healthier choices will energize your employees and boost their efficiency.
  • Seek out employee participation. Have a look at your business objectives from your employees’ points of view. How are they feeling about what’s going on within your company? It’s a lot easier to introduce new goals and programs when you have buy-in from your workforce, and their input may give you a whole new perspective. Giving your employees a voice is the first step to empowerment and commitment to business goals.
  • Tie in a charity project. The holidays bring extra participation to many charities, but when the first quarter arrives, that participation dwindles. Why not encourage your workforce to take on a charity project during the first quarter? You could organize teams and have them track their progress against each other, allowing for some friendly competition that’s all going toward a good cause. This will help bring a new focus to your workers and garner some goodwill for your company.
  • New Year’s resolutions. Everyone has set New Year’s resolutions and probably had mixed success. Why not try having your employees choose resolutions that have to do with work? The resolutions could be for individuals or teams, and positive tracking of improvements is a great way to encourage camaraderie and team building.

The letdown after the holidays is inevitable, but it doesn’t need to hamper employee productivity. Planning ahead with an innovative approach to the new year can help your workforce through the doldrums and put your company back on track.

Mary Parsons is retired from a 30-year career in the insurance industry. She worked in the claims department of a major insurance carrier as a claims adjuster, manager and a member of a catastrophe team. Since her retirement, she has developed a career as a freelance writer. As an insurance professional, she has been a contributor to several insurance websites.