It’s usually around this time of year that people develop a type of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) due to the changing season. Long working days and fewer daylight hours during the winter months can mean that many office-based employees probably don’t get exposure to sunlight. This shouldn’t be brushed off as “winter blues”, as this change in mood can seriously affect how a person feels, thinks, and handles daily activities, including their work. Common symptoms of SAD include having low energy, having problems sleeping, experiencing changes in appetite, having difficulty concentrating, feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty, and even having frequent thoughts of death or suicide. The good news is that employers and managers can have a great deal of influence over their employee’s happiness. Here are a few ways you can help address your employees who are feeling SAD:
Start the conversation – Mental health is hard to talk about and is often seen in a negative light. Encourage your employees to speak up about their mental health and offer them support when they need it.
Remind Employees about Wellbeing Offerings – Benefits, like Employee Assistance Programs or Wellness Days, are often very underutilized. Promote them around your worksite and consider implementing new benefits based on your employees’ needs.
Promote a work-life balance – If feasible, offer flexibility to employees dealing with SAD in the form of adjusted work schedules or even giving them the option to work from home.
Encourage Breaks – Sometimes it’s difficult to step away from work when there’s a lot going on. But this can lead to being overworked and burned out. Breaks are an essential part of the workday and should be embraced as a way for employees to recharge and regroup.
These are just a few tips that can help your employees feel happy, healthy, and engaged through the winter months.