Workplace consultants, Peldon Rose, have released a survey showing over 40 per cent of workers say that winter negatively affects their mental wellbeing. Over a third suffer from or have suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Published ahead of ‘Blue Monday’ – though to new the most depressing day of the year, the survey findings reveal that 50 per cent of workers say that winter adversely affects their mood, 42 per cent believe it has a negative effect on their mental wellbeing, and 34 per cent state winter affects their productivity. Indeed, a further 35 per cent actually identify themselves as suffering or having suffered from SAD – a mood disorder exhibited at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter, with more than half (55 per cent) actually stating that they feel like ‘pulling a sickie’ during the winter months.
Contributing to this depressed mood is the workplace and the fact that the majority of employees (56 per cent), according to the survey, feel unappreciated or only sometimes appreciated by their company, 31 per cent believe their office environment has a negative effect on their wellbeing and 54 per cent specifically stating that a cold office negatively impacts their mood in the winter.
Based on Peldon Rose’s expertise as workplace consultants and feedback from the survey, the firm has put together five key steps for businesses to follow to help their employees beat the Blue Monday Blues.
Some 96 per cent of employees consider a good heating system as the most important factor in supporting their mental health and wellbeing at work. With shorter days (57 per cent), cold weather (57 per cent) and a cold office (54 per cent) rated as the top three negative impacts on mood in the winter, employers need to ensure the office is at a temperature suitable for their employees.
Exposure to natural light
Nine out of ten employees (94 per cent) say that exposure to natural light is important to their wellbeing. However, over a fifth of employees (22 per cent) said they are not exposed to natural light in the office. Wherever possible, businesses should introduce natural light into the workplace, remove obstacles obstructing light and reconfigure furniture to gain optimum natural light.
Some 92 per cent of employees believe that social spaces are valuable in the workplace, helping support healthy mental wellbeing. Workplaces that encourage bringing people together and building friendships will help improve employee wellbeing in the office.
Although 87 per cent of workers say that quiet areas support their wellbeing at work, 44 per cent said that they do not have these areas to retreat to. To ensure everyone’s needs are supported in the office, businesses should create a range of spaces which staff can enjoy according to their personality type, mood and work.
An open and honest dialogue about mental health wellbeing is valued by the vast majority of respondents (87 per cent), yet half (50 per cent) said they do not feel like they can open up to their colleagues about mental health. Creating an open culture should start from the top down to encourage sharing and help improve employee wellbeing.
“Although identifying Blue Monday as the most depressing day of the year may be as much art as science, our survey reveals that Blue Monday does hold a grain of truth, that both mental and physical health is affected by our work environment,” says Jitesh Patel, chief executive at Peldon Rose. “Blue Monday gives us an opportunity to talk about health and wellbeing and the steps we can take to protect it in the workplace. The first initiative is for businesses to properly understand and then meet employee needs such as good heating, exposure to natural light, office facilities and opportunities to get people more physically active. Then businesses should tailor the workplace and office environment around them and their identified needs. By doing this it will help improve wellbeing and mood and ultimately help boost productivity.”