Winter Wednesdays and five ways to motivate ‘cold’ employees

By Howard Feldman

Annually it’s almost Wednesday… sound strange? Well, it’s really about being in a ‘cold’ state of mind and finding it a challenge to be motivated at work… as the now famous saying goes: ‘winter is coming’, and employers really do have to dig deep to deal with the challenge.

On my morning show, we refer to the middle of the week as ‘Whiny Wednesdays’.

Listeners are more irritable, quicker to complain and they invariably hate my music choice. Even if they liked the song the day before!

They are just not happy.

June and July in South Africa are much the same. The initial novelty of the change in season has worn off and we can no longer deny that it’s winter. Theoretically, even if are aware, that we are blessed to have one of the world’s greatest climates, it still is not the same is the long, warm days of summer.

And we are just not happy.

It is not only on my radio show that I have observed this. As a consultant to a number of companies, I have also noticed how employers struggle to motivate staff over this period.

People feel a need to ‘cave’ which means they tend to leave as early as possible, to come in as late as possible and are not as keen to take on new and exciting challenges. It’s almost as if they would love to hibernate, but know that they can’t – and so they spend the months doing as little as possible.

So what should an employer do? Fortunately, there are a number of possible solutions to this.

  • Embrace Winter:  Instead of fighting winter, create an office environment that focusses on the things that we are attracted to in season. For example, make sure there is copious amounts of hot chocolate in the tea-room, hand out marshmallows at 4pm when energies dip and maybe provide warm instant soups to employees. This is not costly, but makes people feel cared for and nurtured. It recognises that everyone a little extra something to get through the period.
  • Make sure the office or environment is right temperature: Sounds obvious right? Wrong! Temperature control is one of the main areas of conflict in the workplace. Latest research shows that its more complicated than we thought. It indicates that women are more productive at higher temperatures than men, who often prefer it cooler. Although men may prefer cooler air in the workplace, they are less affected from a productivity perspective, meaning that it is better, overall, to have a warmer, than cooler environment.
  • Create an annual winter event. We all need something to look forward to. Why not consider placing something on your annual calendar as a highlight to the year? Place this event towards the latter half of the season, so that by the time it happens, Spring is around the corner.
  • Consider providing flu shots to employees. This assists in ‘sick days’ taken and again reflects care.
  • Company walks:  Not everyone is an athlete and although we all know that we should be exercising during the cold months, it’s not easy to do. Why not take advantage of some of the magnificent open areas and parks that we are blessed with? A weekend walk with families or even work day afternoon walk. The time out the office will be made up in other ways.

We know that winter passes. We know that by the time we are used to it being Wednesday, it is already Thursday.

But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t enjoy each day and each season and embrace what it has to offer.


About Howard Feldman

Howard Feldman is one of South Africa’s leading entrepreneurs. His experience is global and extensive, spanning more than 20 years of working as a business strategist, keynote speaker, published author, both locally and globally, social and political commentator, morning drive show host and philanthropist.

Feldman provides insights into strategic thinking, motivation, facilitating solutions and addressing organisational challenges.

Feldman has used his experience and innate understanding of markets and business to also take his career into the fields of writing and radio. He is the author of two successful books – Carry-on Baggage and Tightrope: Musings of Circus South Africa. His third book; Smile, dammit was released in March 2019.

He is also the Morning Mayhem host on ChaiFM from 6am-9am, Mondays to Fridays.

Part of Howard’s career includes a 15-year stint building a global commodity trading business. He found significant conventional success, but lost himself along the way. His journey is an exploration of authenticity and meaning. Armed with business and academic knowledge as well as a brave and unflinching sense of humour, Howard uses his personal experience to educate and entertain.

Howard Feldman works extensively in executive and corporate training. His delivery draws on real-world experience, recognising the value of people and relationships without compromising the energy of entrepreneurship and career growth, providing audiences with applicable wisdom and the tools needed to thrive within a mercurial and challenging business world. He has a unique, positive outlook and courageously engages in conversations that most would prefer not to have. Through humour, insight, and disruptive thinking, Howard unravels complexities, unlocks talent, and ignites potential.