Some believe “Blue Monday” to be one of those gimmicky terms dreamed up by those wanting to make a day for everything, but it is hard to deny that deflated feeling after an indulgent Christmas period. Unfortunately the winter months can be depressing and hard going with their lack of daylight, low temperatures and in recent years what seems to be relentless wind and rain.
These factors could actually be contributing to genuine ill-health and depression, and when combined with the realisation that the festive season is well and truly behind us, failed New Year’s resolutions and possibly a lack of finances, the ‘January Blues’ is a very real phenomenon.
It is not just an issue in January either; discontent and increased absenteeism within the workplace is high in the first few months of the year. According to the ONS, 131 million days were lost due to sickness absences in the UK in 2013*, with stress, and minor illnesses such as coughs and colds given as the main causes of absence. A report from PwC also suggests that sick leave is costing the UK economy as much as £29bn a year.**
Ambius, an interior landscaping company, is therefore urging businesses to use January as an opportunity to encourage employees to personalise their workspace and enrich their environments – whether this is through plants, pictures or photos - and inject some fun into the office environment. A recent report entitled “Green vs Lean” conducted by Exeter and Cardiff Universities revealed that introducing plants into the office, increases workplace satisfaction by up to 40%. Further research found that by giving employees input into the development of their workspace, productivity can improve by as much as 32%***. Moreover, health and wellbeing has also been shown to increase by a similar degree when office workers regain their connection with the natural world.
Kenneth Freeman, Head of Innovation for Ambius comments: “It is vital that positive staff engagement and wellbeing is maintained to help businesses grow in 2015. UK organisations need to be aware of the detrimental effects a depersonalised, lean and sparse workplace can have on an employee and therefore the overall business itself. By simply allowing staff to engage with a workspace, enriched with planting and artwork, employers can see a boost in productivity.
“Office plants provide multiple benefits, including boosting staff morale and reducing depression, anxiety, and overall stress. Creating greener indoor space creates healthier and more productive workplaces as well as sparking stimulation and improved air quality. The figures show that employees are happier at work, more engaged with their employer, and are visibly more effective in doing their jobs.”
Of course, each workplace is different and unique. Nonetheless, personalisation is key to productivity, and adopting greenery in the workspace provides an impactful way to make a real difference.
** http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/hro/news/1077757/sick-leave-costs-uk-employers-gbp29-billion-pwc ***
Results from research published by Dr Craig Knight and his colleagues from studies carried out over the last several years as part of a PhD research project at the University of Exeter and subsequent investigations into aspects of identity realization in the workplace in the UK and the Netherlands, which was co-funded and supported by Ambius. Further information on this work can be found at http://prismsustainableworkplace.ning.com