A new survey from leading workplace consultants, Peldon Rose, released ahead of Blue Monday – reputedly the most depressing day of the year – reveals that half of employees say that their working environment has a negative effect on their mental health (51%) and wellbeing (49%) and two-thirds (67%) say that they only ‘sometimes, rarely or never’ feel valued at work.
Blue Monday, which lands this year on Monday 21 January, is traditionally the time when people lament their broken New Year’s resolutions, unpaid bills, the shorter and darker days and the increasingly cold weather, but Peldon Rose’s survey of nearly 1,000 office workers reveals that many of the causes – and solutions – to the nation’s depressed mood may lie within the workplace itself.
The research shows that two-thirds of employees (64%) currently have poor or below average mental wellbeing and that the majority (56%) claim increasing workloads, followed by a lack of time to focus on wellbeing and exercise (46%) are the leading causes of their stress. While half of employees think introducing exercise facilities will help them to better tackle their workplace stress (50%) – less than a fifth of workplaces (16%) currently provide these facilities, something employers should consider when looking to boost the morale of their workforce.
Beating the Blues: Survey Highlights:
- Valued workforce: Two-thirds (67%) of employees say they only sometimes, rarely or never feel valued at work and a quarter (26%) of employees say that their employer does ‘nothing ‘ to help them manage stress in the workplace
- Culture clash: Fewer than half (43%) of workers describe their workplace culture as supportive and less than a third (31%) describe it as rewarding. A quarter of employees (24%) say their workplace is negative and 1 in 10 (11%) describe it as hostile
- Sedentary lifestyle: With three-quarters (75%) of people in a sedentary occupation and a third (36%) of people working nine hours or more a day, employees are struggling with long hours and physical inactivity
- Exercise: Despite exercise being considered the office’s best stress buster by half of employees (50%), less than a fifth (16%) say they have on-site exercise facilities, only 21% have subsidised gym membership and 33% have cycle to work schemes
- Office environment – 95% say their physical work environment is important for their wellbeing and mental health yet half of employees (51%) say their working environment has a negative effect on their mental health and wellbeing (49%)
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways that employers can help their employees counter the winter blues and positive, longer term initiatives such as revising the office environment is an important first step for businesses aiming to kick off the year with a healthy, productive workforce.
Based on Peldon Rose’s expertise as workplace consultants and feedback from the survey, the firm has put together five key steps for businesses to follow to help their employees beat the Blue Monday Blues
Introducing exercise facilities to the office or ring-fencing dedicated time in the week for employees to do some exercise or meditation would be a very popular move for businesses. A workplace assessment will help businesses decide if an unused meeting area could be transformed into a shower room, meditation room or mini-gym, or if the layout could be changed to encourage people to move around the office more. If space doesn’t allow, businesses should consider providing their employees with subsidised gym passes or even introduce a sports activity, such as running club, as part of their work social activities.
Exposure to natural light
Exposure to natural light is considered vital to mental wellbeing, however nearly a quarter (24%) of employees said they are not exposed to natural light in the office and would like to be. Wherever possible, businesses should introduce natural light into the workplace, remove obstacles obstructing light and reconfigure furniture to gain optimum light coming into the office.
Over a third (38%) of workers would like breakout spaces to be introduced in their office, and do not currently have them. Social spaces are valuable in the workplace, helping support healthy mental wellbeing. Workplaces that encourage bringing people together and building friendships will help improve employee wellbeing.
43% of workers say they would like quiet working areas to help them better manage their stress at work. 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.
Employees need to feel valued to feel happy at work. Acknowledging the work and input of employees should become ingrained in the culture of an organisation, which needs to start from the top down to help improve employee wellbeing.
Jitesh Patel, Chief Executive at Peldon Rose, leading workplace office design specialists commented:
“Many of the concerns that underpin Blue Monday, such as post-holiday blues and broken resolutions are largely transient in nature, but our survey reveals that the nation’s employees are actually struggling with longer term issues, such as not feeling valued at work, which are significantly affecting their mental health and wellbeing.
“Employers must acknowledge that both our mental and physical health is affected by our work environment, and that to have a happy and productive workforce they must understand and meet their employees’ needs. Workers spend much of their working day sitting down being inactive and they believe that the opportunity for more exercise and activity will help improve their wellbeing and mood. Business that respond to these needs by improving the office environment or introducing new benefits will be the ones to reap the benefits by a more motivated and productive workforce.