More than two-fifths (44%) of employees say winter has a negative effect on their mental wellbeing, with 51% believing it adversely affects their mood, and 30% saying it has an impact on their productivity, according to research.
The study by workplace design consultants Peldon Rose has also concluded more than one-third (35%) of respondents identify themselves as suffering or having suffered from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and just over three-quarters (76%) have experienced or are currently experiencing stress in the workplace.
Relatively simple office and environmental changes could make an important difference, however, the survey has suggested.
Exposure to natural light (90%), quiet and private areas (76%), and social and collaborative workspaces (75%) were all rated by the staff polled as significantly more important in supporting mental health than traditional, tailored workplace benefits, such as health insurance (62%) and gym memberships (58%).
Yet only 29% of those polled said they felt their company valued their opinion in the workplace environment, and only 26% believed workplace had a positive effect on their mental health. Reviewing the office environment and engaging with their employees was an important first step for employers seeking to boost the wellbeing of their workforce, argued Peldon Rose.
Jitesh Patel, chief executive of Peldon Rose, said: “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.”
Separately, research from personal nurse adviser service RedArc has concluded it receives 37% more mental health referrals during January than it does compared with any other month of the year.
January has become known for “Blue Monday” – usually the third Monday in January – which has been branded the most depressing day of the year, for a combination of cold and wet weather, short daylight hours, and post-Christmas money worries.
Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc, said: “If more support was available via group risk products, private medical insurance and employee assistance programmes, we would make definite steps in improving the mental health of the UK’s workforce.”