EXCLUSIVE: A third feel that flexible working improves wellbeing during winter

Paul Avis

EXCLUSIVE: A third (33%) of respondents believe that flexible working is the main method to improve wellbeing during the winter months, according to research by group risk provider Canada Life Group Insurance.

Its survey of 1,002 employees also found that 22% find their workplace environment more stressful during the winter; this increases to 35% for those aged under 30. Furthermore, 16% state that their workplace makes it difficult to maintain good mental health, and for those under 30, this figure rises to 29%.

Paul Avis (pictured), marketing director at Canada Life Group Insurance, said: “Getting up in the dark, going home in the dark, a longer commute and the bad weather all play a part in reducing people’s feel-good factor. At this particular time of year, organisations need to be ever more diligent when considering employee welfare, especially for younger [staff].”

Around a fifth (20%) of respondents under the age of 30 state that access to an employee assistance programme (EAP) would help improve their wellbeing during the winter months.

During winter, 26% of employees overall take annual leave for a week or more, compared to 17% who request part-time working from home or 20% who ask for flexible working hours. A further 18% opt to call in sick.

For the under-30s, however, 46% would take annual leave for a week or more during the winter, 35% would want to work part-time from home, 32% would request flexible working hours and 28% would take a sick day.

Avis added: “The heightened levels of stress and depression experienced during the winter months will not disappear with the first flush of spring. The knock-on effect it could have [on] employee wellbeing throughout the rest of the year is likely to be highly detrimental.

“No one should suffer in silence in the workplace. Employers must take responsibility for employee wellbeing and create an open atmosphere which encourages engagement and emphasises the importance of staff wellbeing.

“Employee assistance programmes, provided alongside most group income protection products, can help communicate this message and provide practical support to those with longstanding or particularly acute problems.”