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30th January 2024

Wellbeing in Winter: A Manager’s Guide to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

As the short days and gloomy weather continue, professionals in the UK and across the northern hemisphere face the annual challenge of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), with 1 in 15 people in the UK affected by it. In this article, we’ll explore the effects of SAD on workplace performance and provide insights on how managers can support their teams during the winter months.

What is SAD?

SAD is a type of depression that occurs seasonally, typically in the autumn and winter when exposure to natural sunlight decreases. Symptoms include low energy, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and changes in sleep patterns. For professionals in demanding roles, these symptoms can translate into decreased productivity and overall job satisfaction.

Impact on Wellbeing and Productivity

Wellbeing in Winter: A Manager’s Guide to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) 1

Energy Levels and Motivation:

  • Reduced natural light exposure can disturb circadian rhythms, leading to fatigue and a lack of motivation among employees. This can result in decreased efficiency and engagement in the workplace.

Cognitive Function:

  • SAD can impair cognitive functions such as concentration and decision-making, which can be particularly detrimental to our focus and critical thinking skills.

Absenteeism and Presenteeism:

  • Employees working with SAD may face higher rates of absenteeism, where they are absent from the workplace, or presenteeism, where individuals show up to work but are not fully productive. This can have a negative impact on team performance, as well as task completion and deadlines.

How to Support Your Team During Winter

Wellbeing in Winter: A Manager’s Guide to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) 2

As a manager, your role in supporting employees is crucial. By implementing practical initiatives, fostering a supportive environment, and promoting open communication, you can create a workplace where individuals thrive even during the darker months. Take proactive steps to brighten your workplace and ensure the wellbeing and productivity of your team this winter:

  • Promote natural light exposure. Encourage team members to take breaks outdoors, especially during daylight hours. You could also consider rearranging office to maximise access to windows and natural light.
  • Offer flexible working arrangements. Options such as remote work or adjusted schedules may allow employees to get more sunlight exposure or manage their energy levels more effectively.
  • Support mental health at work. Create a supportive environment that focuses on mental health, such as mindfulness sessions, yoga classes, or employee assistance programs.
  • Boost open communication. Encourage open dialogue about mental health and SAD. This can help make sure employees feel comfortable discussing their needs and challenges.
  • Help employees access resources. Share information about SAD and available resources, such as mental health hotlines or counselling services. Creating awareness can reduce stigma and encourage seeking help.
  • Lead by example. Demonstrate the importance of work-life balance and self-care. Managers who prioritise their own mental health set a positive example for their teams.

How can Impact help?

Through our comprehensive wellbeing offerings, Impact bespoke strategies specifically tackle the challenges your team face in the workplace, including SAD. Our expert team collaborates with you to design initiatives, create supportive environments and foster open communication about mental health. Together we can cultivate a positive workplace culture that prioritises employee wellbeing throughout the year.

Enquire here.