Employee wellness has become a priority for employers, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies are now offering corporate wellness programs that focus on holistic wellness, mainly on employee mental wellness.
Many studies have been conducted to analyze employee mental wellness, and many new outcomes have come to light, which needs to be emphasized for holistic wellness. One of the crucial mental health concepts is – Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a sort of depression associated with changing seasons. The mental health issue usually begins and ends at a specific time of the year or season, every year. Most people with SAD lose their energy and become depressed or moody at the start of the fall season and continue through the winter. It is less often to find SAD patients who are affected during spring or summer.
A study by the American Academy of Family Physicians reported that Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD affected almost 4 – 6% of the respondents, and 10 – 20% experienced mild symptoms. SAD is more often diagnosed in people over 20 years of age, and is common in the northern regions of the world as it is colder in these areas. In the USA, it is said to be more common in the Washington State than in Florida.
How SAD Affects Employee Health and Wellness?
Although SAD affects employees across the globe, the symptoms differ based on the geographical location and climatic conditions. However, the most common symptoms include –
- Unhealthy eating habits and binge eating
- Unnatural weight gain
- Sadness, anxiety, and irritability
- Fatigue and low energy
- Uninterested in socializing
The symptoms show that SAD can have a significant impact on employee health and wellness, which in turn, impact workplace wellness and business. Commonly SAD impacts employee wellbeing at the workplace by way of –
- Reduced focus and performance
- Lower employee productivity
- Lack of motivation
- Less employee engagement
- Poor socializing and teamwork
- Higher absenteeism and presenteeism
All these effects of SAD on employee wellbeing directly or indirectly impacts workplace wellness and business through lost productivity, lower engagement in wellness programs and work, increased healthcare costs, and overall business ROI.
How Corporate Wellness Programs Can Help Deal SAD?
Employee wellness programs are cut out to improve lifestyle habits and lead a life of holistic wellness. By incorporating the right wellness challenges ideas in the corporate wellness programs, employers can help employees manage their Seasonal Affective Disorder, COVID-19 stress, workplace burnout, or other mental health issues.
Here are a few tips to help employees manage their SAD and other mental health concerns.
Encouraging Rest and Flexible Work Schedules
Many employees turn up to work despite being stressed or not well only because they do not want to increase their absenteeism rates. However, presenteeism or the presence at the workplace despite not being well enough to focus on their work. This adds to employee stress, loss of productivity, and workplace burnout issues. Studies show that presenteeism costs companies almost $160 billion annually. Employers must ensure employees have flexible working schedules and they get enough rest to recover when they are not well or exhausted.
Include Right Wellness Challenges Ideas
Corporate wellness challenges are an integral part of the employee wellness programs, which play a major role in employee engagement and in adopting healthier habits. The employee wellness program can include corporate wellness challenges ideas to improve physical health, cultivate healthy eating habits, sleep well, better hydration, manage stress, improve social wellness, and more to reduce burnout and improve mental wellness. Encourage challenges to improve social interaction, assign hydration challenges, outdoor team activities, and other holistic wellness programs.
Boost Social Interaction and Communication
Since voluntary social isolation is one of the key side-effects of seasonal affective disorder, employers must take adequate steps to ensure employees interact well with each other at the workplace. Encouraging social communication and interaction at the workplace can help in building stronger teams that are engaged, creative, and productive. With the COVID-19 enforcing social distancing rules, employers can encourage socialization through virtual meetings, virtual team challenges, and other wellbeing challenges ideas, which make the employees more connected and engaged at their workplace.
With the winter of 2020 topped with the anxiety of the pandemic, many employees are still continuing to face the impact of SAD, stress, and workplace burnout even in spring 2021. And so, employers must prioritize corporate wellness programs to support mental wellbeing, including stress, depression, anxiety, and more, for holistic health and employee wellness.