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A growing number of employees are ‘feeling SAD’

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Nearly a quarter of employees are affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD) new research has shown.

Research published by employee health risk specialist Willis PMI Group found that 23 per cent of UK employers experience more distress in the winter months. Furthermore, almost one in five (18%) believe that SAD is an unnecessary label created to explain natural, seasonal changes in mood, despite experiencing those symptoms. Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of the HR professionals surveyed noticed a downturn in mood among staff during the dark winter months.An additional 43 per cent of respondents to the survey said that staff productivity lowered during the winter months.

Mike Blake, director at Willis PMI Group, said: “SAD is a medically recognised condition, believed to be caused by reduced sunlight levels affecting hormone production, that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern and is sometimes known as ‘winter depression’ because symptoms tend to be more severe during winter. “Although not all HR professionals are aware of this, it is reassuring the majority (79 per cent) recognise SAD’s authenticity as it can have far reaching effects on employees’ mood and productivity.” Worryingly, there is evidence that many employers do not know how to deal with employees that exhibit the symptoms of SAD. The figures showed that almost three-quarters (74 percent) of HR professionals however do not know the recommended treatment for employees suffering from SAD.

Mr Blake added: “There is clearly a lack of understanding on how to handle the issue of SAD amongst employers. Lifestyle measures, including getting as much natural sunlight as possible, exercising regularly and managing stress levels, as well as light and talking therapies can have a significant impact in reducing symptoms.”

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