You wake up on a gloomy Monday morning and as you open the curtains you’re met with a dark stormy sky through the glass of your window. You manage to drag yourself into the office, taking note that it’s still dark and cold outside, as you turn on the harsh fluorescent lights of the office and start to wake all of the office machinery, whirring in protest as their cogs start to turn.
Your day drags by, you see colleagues from other departments walking in and out, returning from meetings laughing and in high spirits. You wonder whether the morning gloom has been replaced by the spring sunshine that supposedly puts a spring in everyone’s step. You wouldn’t know as you still haven’t managed to step out of the office; the office with its pale grey decor and lack of windows that feels more like a prison cell than a hub of positivity, enthusiasm and productivity.
What a sad outlook this employee has, although sadly it is neither fictitious nor embellished.
The truth is that sadly many employees feel this way, de-motivated, lethargic and in low mood due to the surroundings and environment of the office. Even worse is that these factors sometimes become heightened at various times throughout the year.
Research conducted by The Weather Channel and YouGov has found that 29% of the population suffers from a degree of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the winter months. Of these, 8% consider that they suffer from diagnosed SAD – twice as high as previous reports suggest – and a further 21% consider that they suffer from a mild form of SAD. (1)
SAD is defined as a type of depression that is directly influenced by changes in weather. The effects are more pronounced in winter months and tend to disappear when the sunlight makes it appearance during spring and summer months.
Researchers at the Interdepartmental Neuroscience program at Northwestern University in Chicago, looked at the effects of natural light on the mood and subsequent productivity of employees within workplaces with no windows or access to natural light. They concluded the detrimental impact of working in a windowless environment is a universal phenomenon. The results confirmed the link between natural light and areas such as employee productivity and overall health and well-being. (2)
So as an employer what can you do as an alternative to knocking holes in your office walls and ceilings for windows and skylights, which is neither cost effect nor practical?
Gary Lorimer, founder of NewGlow Lighting believes he has the answer, Gary has created a range of high quality LED Panel light boxes which look to the eye like normal windows or skylights, which can be easily installed into offices either into an existing ceiling grid system or directly onto the ceiling or walls to give the illusion of natural light. However, what is really clever about these LED Panel light boxes is that they can display images such as woodlands or meadows on a calm and relaxing spring day, a beautiful skyline or cloudy summers day or one of my favourites the beach in the height of summer where the sunlight hits the sea and creates a shimmer and sparkle…. enough to brighten anyone’s day!
Gary believes that to create a productive and sustainable workforce, employers need to be aware of influences such as SAD and the impact that negative working environments can have on employee’s general well-being.
Having worked in HR for over 10 years now, I appreciate the challenges faced by employers trying to consider employees health and well-being within their businesses. Health and general well-being can result in poor motivation and engagement levels, a decrease in productivity and an increase in absence.
According to a survey completed in 2016, by the CIPD in associated with Simplyhealth, the estimated cost of absence within the private sector amounted on average to £520 per employee per year. With stress and mental health conditions appearing as the most common reason for long-term absence and second most common for short term absences. (3)
From a HR perspective, anything that supports employee health and well-being is always going to be beneficial and looking at reducing the effects of SAD and other like medical conditions within the workplace has potential benefits for both employee and employer.
Employers would do well to review their workforce absence levels as well as investigate overall workforce health and well-being. Steps introduced such as rest breaks outside of the office as well as initiatives such as the fantastic LED Panel light boxes designed by Gary at NewGlow Lighting will all go towards reducing the impact of disorders such as SAD and produce a happier and healthier workforce.
For more information in regards to the health and well-being of your employees please contact Nicki directly on 07496 857688, or email: Nicki@hr-yourbusinessmatters.co.uk or visit www.hr-yourbusinessmatters.co.uk
For more information of the LED Panel light boxes provided by Gary at New Glow Lighting please contact Gary on 01733 889443/07507522429 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.newglowlighting.co.uk