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How Can a Poor Working Environment Impact Our Mental Health?

Brits typically spend a lot of their week at work, with the average employee spending 47 hours undergoing tasks. There are a huge variety of job and industry types offering a range of working environments, from office-based roles to outdoor manual labour. In every sector, it’s crucial that there is a healthy environment — however this isn’t always the case.

In 2017/2018, there were 30.7 million working days lost in the UK due to work-related ill health and non-fatal workplace injuries. Stress, depression, or anxiety accounted for 15.4 million of those days, with each person suffering being absent for an average of 25.8 days.

Here, we will look at how our workspace can negatively impact on our mental health, as well as ways companies can improve their environment.

Work/life balance

Modern life is causing increasing pressure on the public; we are sleeping less and working more than ever before. In 1910, the average sleeping schedule saw us rest our heads for nine hours per night, but in current times this has dropped to around seven hours nightly. Recent studies have found that longer working hours and shorter sleeping patterns are causing a poor work/life balance, which in turn can lead to negative consequences in the future.

One study found that an individual working over 55 hours per week is 1.3 times more likely to have a stroke than those who work the standard number of hours. Other data has discovered that working this amount of time increases the risk of anxiety and depression almost two-fold. Sleep deprivation is a common result of working longer hours.. Suffering from this can cause cardiovascular disease and increase the risk of death.

Companies can think about including flexible hours into the working week to help combat this. Everyone has an optimum time in which they are most productive. Poor productivity levels can not only increase the length of the working day, but it could affect a business’s profit margins. After all, long hours aren’t always productive. In certain flexible working hours opportunities – or flexi-time – a member of staff is provided with the opportunity to finish slightly earlier if they find their productivity waning and to make their time up.

This also allows employees to plan their outside-of-work life in case they need to make any appointments, thus improving the work/life balance.

Management

In a CV-Library survey, 53.2 per cent of respondents reported that stress was an issue in their workplace, with management and pressure topping the reasons as to why stress was evident. In fact, three out of four employees admit that their boss is the most stressful part of their role, as two thirds say they’d take a new boss instead of a pay rise.

These are staggering statistics and good leadership can improve productivity and staff retention, which will in turn more than likely translate to bigger profit levels. Leadership development is a great way to help a manager – or indeed members of staff — improve their skillset. With 85 per cent of executives not confident in their leadership pipeline and nearly nine in 10 companies admitting they urgently need to develop new senior figures, this should be a priority.

A good leader will have a clear head and a focused view on where the business intends to go. By learning key leadership skills, a manager can feel confident they have the tools needed and earn their team’s respect, while also improving morale and productivity.

Surroundings

The area in which we work can often be overlooked, but this should never be the case as it can make a huge difference to our moods and productivity levels. As in any location, dark and dingy spaces can cause your mood to drop automatically, so imagine if you’re spending the majority of your time here? If you spend most of your time in an office, make sure you work in an environment with colours which will brighten your mood. For example, orange can boost confidence, yellow can raise happiness levels, while blue can boost your ability to find tranquillity in life.

It’s not just colour that can boost your feelings, either. If your space is dull, include flowering plants. As well as looking aesthetically pleasing, these blooming delights can work as an air purifier. According to a Harvard study, including plants in your workspace can improve productivity by 15 per cent, while well-ventilated offices can also boost your brain power.

While there is a clear link between work and our mental health, thankfully there are a lot of improvements companies can be making to improve the rather negative current stats.

Sources

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313755.php

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/productivity-uk-long-working-hours-employment-budget-economy-output-a8075586.html

https://palife.co.uk/news/bad-management-top-cause-of-stress-for-uk-workers/

https://learning.linkedin.com/blog/engaging-your-workforce/bosses-really-matter–here-are-8-stats-that-prove-it-

http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/dayslost.htm

https://www.littlethings.com/how-to-use-color-therapy/3

https://www.laurelandwolf.com/blog/therapist-explains-interior-design-can-influence-mood/

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3291770/Poor-office-air-quality-lack-fresh-air-affects-ability-make-decisions.html

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