Using Natural Light to Minimize Employee Sick Days
By Torrin Greathouse | June 13, 2017
Natural light can have a major effect on day-to-day human health. Studies show that daily exposure minimizes many health risks, and actually bolsters the immune system. By improving occupant health, this can actually contribute to greater productivity, minimizing absenteeism and making the hours spent at work more productive. So how does your lighting affect employee health?
Boosts Immune System
Daily exposure to sunlight is invaluable in maintaining a healthy immune system. This is, in part, because sunlight helps your body produce and maintain vitamin C and D, which are fundamental to maintaining good health. Those deprived of sunlight experience a rapid decline in these vitamins, followed by a sharp decline in health.
Maintains Healthy Sleep
Natural light also aids in the maintenance of an important neurotransmitter, melatonin. This neurotransmitter controls the natural day-night sleep cycle, helping to ensure we rest for 6-8 hours each night. Artificial light, which is often oversaturated with blue spectrum light, can negatively affect melatonin production. This contributes to the development of insomnia, reducing the length of time the body has to recover, leading to poor health.
Aid in Preventing Negative Health Conditions
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, regular exposure to natural light has been shown to aid in the prevention of a wealth of ailments. Many of these are chronic conditions, including prediabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rickets. Providing this natural lighting can help to nullify the effects of over a dozen conditions, minimizing employee sick days
The Problem of Presenteeism
Alongside absenteeism is the, arguably more dangerous, trend of presenteeism. Presenteeism is when workers continue to attend work despite being sick or injured, often due to economic necessity or to avoid falling behind on pressing work-related tasks. The issue is that in most cases, these employees are unable to work effectively, and actually waste the time they could be recovering. If they are sick, they also risk infecting co-workers, which could lead to an incapacitated workforce. In fact, studies show that the cost effect of presenteeism, in terms of lost productivity, is actually greater than that of absenteeism. Because of this, it is important to not only integrate natural lighting to improve employee health, but to create opportunities for employees who may be sick to recover.