January may have been and gone but spring still feels like it’s a long way off. With the longer, darker days and typical miserable weather, winter can often feel like it’s lasting forever.
According to Business Matters, a recent survey revealed that 44% of employees feel winter has a negative effect on their mental wellbeing, with 51% saying it adversely affects their mood and 30% stating it has an impact on their productivity.
So, what can employers do to help their workers through the winter months? While it might come as a surprise, employees said that their office environment was a key factor in helping them to beat the winter blues. Here’s how you can do just that…
Bring the outside in
The bad weather can often mean employees are cooped up inside. Alleviate this feeling by exposing workers to natural light.
The benefits of natural light on mental wellbeing have long been documented, but you don’t have to fit your office with floor-to-ceiling windows. If necessary, change seating arrangements and make sure there are no obstacles blocking the sunlight. Consider Seasonal Affected Disorder lamps and lights for your desks too – find out more information about these at http://www.sad.org.uk/.
While three quarters of workers were found to see communal areas as important in supporting mental health, just over half (51%) said their office had such spaces.
This doesn’t have to involve a complete refurb, this can be achieved by making existing communal areas more welcoming with new seating solutions and providing workers a space to eat that isn’t at their desks.
Exercise releases endorphins, which helps to lift mood and reduce stress and anxiety. If your office has space, consider fitting a gym or workout space for employees to make sure they don’t spend the entire day sat down. No space for a gym? Standing desks can help get workers to get on their feet and feel more productive.
Include staff in decisions about the workplace. According to the survey, 29% of people feeling their company values their opinion and only 30% believe their company values their opinion on the workplace environment. However, nearly three quarters (73%) said being involved in workplace decisions would have a positive impact on motivation, mood (70%) and mental wellbeing (56%).