Spring Forward at Work

Anyone who has lived through this past winter (yes, it’s over, even if Mother Nature hasn’t quite conceded the point yet!), knows that weather can affect your mood.  From the physiological and psychological reactions to reduced daylight and perpetual cold, to acute stress caused by hazardous driving conditions and having to winter-dress children every time they leave the house; life in general is just a bit harder when facing a harsh winter.

Grasshopper of the ZEBRA Stelzentheater, by Katharina on Flikr

On the flip side, sunny days and balmy temperatures have been shown to increase optimism and boost energy levels. In fact forty years of research suggests there’s a strong link between the weather and our moods.[1] Perhaps this actually a bounce-back reaction to the dampening effect of reduced daylight that contributes to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or maybe it’s an instinctive reaction to the season of rebirth and hope.[2]

Either way, spring is here (albeit still in disguise for many of us), and it’s a great time to take stock and start something new. Many of us feel the urge for a good spring cleaning a soon as windows can safely be opened, so why not leverage this rejuvenating influence to spring forward at work?

Clear the Weeds

Spring is a great time to take stock of past projects and reset those that may have stagnated over the winter. It’s also a great time to reduce physical and mental clutter, not to mention slimming down the infobesity that slows you down. Let spring be your inspiration to clear the weeds from your workday—here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Have you left loose ends that are causing projects to drag on when they’re otherwise substantially complete? Tie them up and move on!
  • Do you have a foot high “to read” pile you’ll never really get to? Ditch it or donate it: chances are the information you meant to extract is stale now anyway.
  • Are you receiving multiple emails from sources you are only marginally interested in and could find anytime if you had an immediate need?  Take some time to unsubscribe to everything that isn’t essential. While you’re at it, put some filters and rules in place so your incoming email gets automatically sorted and prioritized and doesn’t just accumulate in your inbox (3,606 emails in your inbox is just silly)

Leverage the Light

We can also take advantage of the surge in optimism and energy that most people experience with the onset of spring to launch key initiatives. Research shows that optimism is associated with more than mood; it also influences people’s ability to cope and even limits changes in the immune system that typically happen in response to stress.[3]  So this optimistic springtime is a great time to start a new health and wellness initiative, for example, since you can leverage that optimism and the natural serotonin boost that’s triggered by increased daylight.

With people generally experiencing a more optimistic frame of mind and higher energy levels, spring is also a much better time to initiate change. It’s much easier to get people on board when they’re feeling positive and optimistic than it is when they’re mired in the winter blues. And all that extra energy sure comes in handy as people manage the transition to the new way of doing things.

Plant the Seeds

Spring is also a good time to plant the seeds of future success. In the HR function that might mean:

  • Starting a new recruiting campaign that will chug along over the summer and come to fruition in the fall, ensuring a bumper crop of new, quality recruits before year end. 
  • Helping management engage staff in a business process improvement initiative that will generate long term cost savings. Suggest that management make it more motivating by giving employees input into how recaptured costs will be used—they’re more likely to agree when in an optimistic, springtime frame of mind.
  • Setting up that mentorship program you’ve been thinking about so your best talent can be groomed for growth and the mentoring relationship can germinate when people are pre-disposed to embrace new beginnings.

Just as it’s important to think about the effect of the winter blues on employees, it’s equally important to make the most of the upside that better weather can deliver. Although you may not be in the business of making hay while the sun shines, at the very least, let the warmer weather help you and your people spring forward.


Engage and nurture your talent this spring with TribeHR’s uniquely social HCM suite. Start your free trial today.


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