Whether a touch of the blues or something more serious, January can be hard on your workforce.
‘Blue Monday’, the so-called most depressing day of the year, is coming up next week. This is the day where the weather, personal debt, and the time since the Christmas holidays all combine into an amalgamation of disappointment and frustration.
You might consider any downturn in your employee’s moods as simply a touch of the post-Christmas blues. Yet it may actually be something more serious, as a study has revealed the growing prevalence of Seasonal Affecting Disorder (SAD) in the workplace.
The study, conducted by Willis PMI Group, found that nearly a quarter of UK HR professionals (23%) had encountered the condition.
Yet the study also found than almost one in five (18%) believe that SAD is an unnecessary label for natural, seasonal changes in mood.
“SAD is a medically recognised condition, believed to be caused by reduced sunlight levels affecting hormone production, that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern and is sometimes known as ‘winter depression’ because symptoms tend to be more severe during winter,” said Mike Blake, Director at Willis PMI Group.
“Although not all HR professionals are aware of this, it is reassuring the majority (79%) recognise SAD’s authenticity as it can have far reaching effects on employees’ mood and productivity,” Blake continued.
Three quarters (74%) of the respondents reported a downturn in mood during the winter months, while 43% reported a downturn in productivity.
So how can you improve the mood in your workplace?
- Make sure that you leave the office blinds open where possible to let the light in. As lack of natural sunlight is the primary cause of SAD, give your employees the opportunity to bask in glorious vitamin D during the day.
- With an abundance of evidence linking physical exercise to good mental health, make sure that your employees are able to get out and about. Even a lunchtime stroll to the nearest coffee shop should help them to feel awake and positive for the afternoon.
- Finally, consider providing fresh fruit for your team. Healthy eating is always good, and there is some evidence that taking extra vitamin B12 is helpful to people who suffer from SAD.
Whether Blue Monday or not, it’s important to recognise the difference between an employee who feels down and someone who is suffering from clinical depression. Click here to find out more about how to manage depression in the workplace.