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January 19, 2017

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Winter has a negative effect on mental wellbeing, say a third of workers

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Winter has a huge impact on the mental health and wellbeing of British workers according to a new survey from workplace consultants, Peldon Rose.

The survey revealed that 44% of employees say winter has a negative effect on their mental wellbeing, 51% believe it adversely affects their mood, and 30% state that it affects their productivity.

A third of respondents identified themselves as suffering from or having suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that becomes more severe in the winter.

How businesses can tackle this

For businesses who are having to deal with employees returning less than revitalised after the Christmas break, the survey revealed ways that businesses can help to make a difference.

The highest rated things in the survey that businesses can do to tackle the January blues included:

  • exposure to natural light (90%)
  • quiet and private areas (76%)
  • social and collaborative workspaces (75%)

These three were marked as significantly more important than ‘traditional’ workplace benefits like health insurance (62%) and gym memberships (58%).Another area that needs significant improvement, according to the survey, is the value placed by companies on their workforce’s opinion, with less than 30% of people saying they felt their opinion was valued.

Addressing the problems

To address the issues highlighted in the survey, Peldon Rose has highlighted some key workplace improvements to eliminate the winter blues and increase employee wellbeing:

Natural lighting: While over 90% of respondents considered exposure to natural light as important in supporting their mental health and wellbeing at work, only 63% currently have it in their workplace. Wherever possible introduce more natural lighting into the office, reconfigure seating arrangements if necessary and remove any obstacles preventing sunlight from entering the workplace

Quiet areas: 76% said quiet and private workspaces support their wellbeing at work, but only 40% of people have them in their workplace. Create a bespoke quiet area by re-thinking how space is currently used, designate part of the office a quiet area or reallocate a specific meeting room as the ‘quiet zone’.

Social and communal areas: 75% think they’re important to support mental health, but only 51% have them. Create social areas by making existing communal areas such as the kitchen more welcoming with comfy seating and more relaxed, homely design.

Inclusivity: Include everyone in decisions being made about the workplace; greater employee involvement will have a positive impact on staff productivity (70%) and mental wellbeing (56%).

Jitesh Patel, Chief Executive, Peldon Rose, the office design specialists, said: “Thousands of office workers are struggling with their mental health, motivation and productivity this winter, but our survey reveals that there are steps businesses can take to try prevent SAD and the winter blues developing in the first place.

“Employees are clear that rather than paid-for interventions, such as mental health support through health insurance, a supportive work culture and the right office environment will do far more to support their mental health and boost their wellbeing, meaning all businesses, regardless of size can look to make small changes that will have an impact.”

“The first step is for businesses to engage with their staff via change management and getting them more involved in decisions about their workplace environment. By doing this it will boost their motivation, mood and productivity.

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