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Blue Monday – New Order

Jitesh Patel

With Over 40 percent of workers say that winter negatively affects their mental well-being and over a third suffer from or have suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). New survey Peldon Rose reveals key changes to the workplace to beat the Blue Monday Blues, improve employee well-being and boost productivity. Contributor Jitesh Patel, Chief Executive – Peldon Rose.

A new survey from leading workplace consultants, Peldon Rose, released ahead of Blue Monday, allegedly the most depressing day of the year, reveals a significant majority of workers say winter has a negative effect on their mental well-being, with half believing it adversely affects their mood and over a third stating that winter affects productivity. Based on these findings Peldon Rose has put together five key initiatives employers can use to beat the Blue Monday Blues and help to boost productivity.

The survey findings reveal that 50 percent of workers say that winter adversely affects their mood, 42 percent believe it has a negative effect on their mental well-being, and 34 percent state winter affects their productivity. Indeed, a further 35 percent 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 percent) 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 percent), according to the survey, feel unappreciated or only sometimes appreciated by their company, 31 percent believe their office environment has a negative effect on their well-being and 54 percent specifically stating that a cold office negatively impacts their mood in the winter.

Survey Highlights: Seasonal Blues: Over two fifths (45 percent) believe winter has a negative effect on motivation, 42 percent of workers say that winter has a negative effect on their mental well-being and over a third (34 percent) state winter affects productivity.

SAD & Sickies: Over a third (35 percent) suffer from or have suffered from SAD and 55 percent feel like taking a sickie during the winter months. Office Failures: Employees said that a cold office (54 percent) and fluorescent office lighting (39 percent) negatively impact their mood in the winter.

Workspace Woes: Over half (56 percent) feel unappreciated or only sometimes appreciated by their company, while almost a third (31 percent) of employees believe the office environment has a negative impact on your happiness and well-being.

Working on Well-being: A good heating system (96 percent), exposure to natural light (94 percent), breakout space (92 percent), quiet settings (87 percent) and an open culture which encourages honest dialogue about mental health benefits (87 percent) are considered most valuable to employee well-being.

There are plenty of ways that employers can help their employees counter winter blues and companies need to push change from the top down. Revising the office environment is an important first initiative for businesses aiming to start the year with a healthy, productive workforce and they survey respondents identified improving their office environment as key to tackling the winter blues.

Five key steps for businesses to follow to help their employees beat the Blue Monday Blues:

 Good heating
Some 96 percent of employees consider a good heating system as the most important factor in supporting their mental health and well-being at work. With shorter days (57 percent), cold weather (57 percent) and a cold office (54 percent) 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 percent) say that exposure to natural light is important to their well-being. However, over a fifth of employees (22 percent) 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.

Breakout spaces
Some 92 percent of employees believe that social spaces are valuable in the workplace, helping support healthy mental well-being. Workplaces that encourage bringing people together and building friendships will help improve employee well-being in the office.

Quiet settings
Although 87 percent of workers say that quiet areas support their well-being at work, 44 percent 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.

Open culture
An open and honest dialogue about mental health well-being is valued by the vast majority of respondents (87 percent), yet half (50 percent) 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 well-being.

Jitesh Patel, Chief Executive at Peldon Rose: “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.”

“Blue Monday gives us an opportunity to talk about health and well-being 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 well-being and mood and ultimately help boost productivity.”