‘Blue Monday’ has become something of a tradition for the working population of the UK to track, being the third Monday of the new year and supposedly the most depressing. This day is chosen due to being a day in the heart of winter, and far removed from the pleasantries of the festive period – but it also describes a general malaise felt by many in the winter.
One particular cause for low mood in a certain portion of the working population is pathological in nature. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, refers to a depressive disorder which presents symptoms at a certain part of the year – most often, the winter months. SAD sufferers might experience lower moods and hence lower morale during the colder, darker days; as a business, what can you do to improve morale overall, and ensure your employees are well-supported?
With regard to SAD specifically, there are some simple and tangible changes your business can make to better serve your staff. The layout of your office can impact a number of things, from productivity to staff sociability and beyond. Poor office layouts can leave staff feeling isolated, and on a more fundamental level fail to make the most of the natural light available to the space.
The impacts of natural light on mood are well-reported, with regard to both circadian rhythms and Vitamin D exposure. More important, though, is the statistics that a third of workers in Europe would be happier in a workplace with better lighting. A simple office re-arrange could allow more workers to benefit from natural light, and enjoy a corresponding mood-boost as a result.
Your business’ HR department is often hamstrung by the nature of their work. Rote, administrative tasks from expenses recording to leave management can take up a significant amount of the department’s time, leaving little room for more radical employee-centred planning and resource generation.
In instituting a new human resource management system that integrates a number of crucial processes, you can improve worker access to vital documentation and reduce the man-hours required to administrate training, queries and aforementioned data-entry tasks. This would give your native HR team the time and space to ideate new solutions for staff, and to directly give time to staff one-on-one.
Flexible and Remote Working
One of the key changes a revamped HR department might feel emboldened to suggest is that of flexible working. A new standard has been set for workers since the coronavirus pandemic, which illustrated the relative ease with which businesses could pivot from in-office working to remote arrangements.
Also, if your business does not already offer it, you could give your employees the option of ‘flexitime’ – enabling them to put in their contracted hours for a given work day as they see fit. You might have some core hours in which they must be available, but otherwise their working hours would be devolved to them. They could start late, finish early or do the opposite and take a longer lunch. This would allow them to work more effectively around their needs and health – improving morale in the process.
Photo credits: Coworking London