The survey reveals that over two-fifths of employees say winter has a negative effect on their mental wellbeing, half believe it adversely affects their mood and 30 per cent state winter affects their productivity.
Over a third of respondents even identify themselves as suffering or having suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder – SAD – a type of depression that becomes more severe in the winter – and three-quarters have experienced or are currently experiencing stress in the workplace.
The survey paints a gloomy picture for employers hoping for a refreshed and revitalised workforce to return following the Christmas break as the longer, darker days at the start of January will continue to affect employees’ wellbeing and productivity well into the New Year.
However, the survey also reveals some important – and perhaps unexpected – ways that businesses can make a difference.
Workers believe the office environment in particular has a vital role in helping to tackle the January blues with office-based factors such as exposure to natural light, quiet and private areas and social and collaborative workspaces all rated as significantly more important in supporting mental health than traditional, tailored workplace benefits such as health insurance and gym memberships.
Yet, with only 29 per cent of people saying yes, they feel the company values their opinion in the workplace environment and only 26 per cent believing their workplace has a positive effect on their mental health, there is clearly more businesses can do. Reviewing the office environment and engaging with staff is an important first step for employers seeking to boost the wellbeing of their workforce.
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. 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.
“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 a big impact this New Year.”