With the cold weather and fewer hours of daylight, everyone could use a little brightening up this time of year. Even though the holiday party season is starting, many people will still be putting in long hours at work to hit their year-end goals. 

There are lots of ways that employers can boost morale and promote health and wellness in the office — try the ideas below:

Have healthy foods and drinks in the office 
This time of year usually involves big meals and lots of treats, making it easy for people to indulge at the many holiday events and parties on their calendars. An office stocked with healthy foods and drinks is often much appreciated by employees. See what you can afford to do within your budget. Offering healthy breakfast items, fresh fruit or diet-conscious snacks at work can be a welcome sight. A well-stocked kitchen is also convenient this time of year because many people's schedules are packed, leaving little time for meal prep at home. 

office Brighten up your employees' time at the office during the winter.

Implement a safe winter-driving program 
Commuting to the office in the winter is particularly risky. October, November and December are the most dangerous months to drive to work, with nearly 30 percent of all work-related crashes happening during this timeframe, according to WorkSafeBC. HRVoice recommends sharing safety resources with employees and implementing a winter-driving safety program at your office. The Shift Into Winter website has many resources to help employers put such a program together. 

You should also consider implementing flexible working policies at your office during the winter. Employees should feel free to work from home on days when the weather is bad. People's safety is more important than hitting project deadlines! 

Support employees' mental health 
The holiday season can be a swirling storm of stress and anxiety for your employees. In addition to mounting fourth-quarter deadlines, people can be facing family and financial pressures. Add in the fewer hours of daylight and occurrence of seasonal affective disorder, and you've got a recipe for burnout. Here are a few ideas to promote your employees' mental health:

  • Designate a space in the office for yoga and meditation. 
  • Encourage employees to take breaks throughout the day. 
  • Discourage employees from working overtime. Review expectations with managers to ensure employees have realistic workloads and deadlines. 

Let your employees know that you value their psychological well-being by allowing mental health days. These days off give employees a chance to regroup and refresh and help prevent burnout, according to workplace culture expert Evan Thompson for The Huffington Post Canada. By taking a day off, employees can return to work more productive and engaged. 

"Discourage employees from working overtime."

Embrace the spirit of the season 
With all the fourth-quarter work deadlines to be met and holiday shopping to be done, we can get a little distracted from the true spirit of the season: caring for one another. As an employer, you can help your employees shift their focus from holiday season stress to activities that nurture the soul instead.

One great way to do this is to establish a company-wide volunteer day before the holidays. Instead of coming into the office, everyone can spend the day volunteering at a charity they pick together. This is a great way to celebrate the spirit of giving as a business. 

Promote physical activity 
Regular physical activity is important year-round, but especially during the winter. Offer discounts on gym memberships to employees during the holiday season. If gyms or fitness studios are located near the office, encourage employees to work out on their lunch breaks. You could also create a fitness bulletin board at your office pinned with ideas for exercising in the winter and announcements about local fitness events or marathons. 

The holiday season can be a time of cheer and celebration, but also one of stress and fatigue. With the ideas above, you can help your employees stay healthy and happy this winter.