Looking after the wellbeing of your employees is important all year round. However, there are weeks and even days when your staff may need some extra support. Maybe there has been more pressure than usual. Maybe deadlines have been tight. Maybe it’s a slow period in business and that’s making it difficult to cultivate a sense of shared purpose. Or, perhaps it’s just Blue Monday.
What Is Blue Monday?
Blue Monday refers to the third Monday of January, which is rumoured to be the most depressing day of the year. The claim seems to be based on various factors including that the date is usually low in temperature, a fair distance from payday, has the fewest (ish) hours of daylight and is one of the furthest from a bank holiday.
In truth, the evidence for Blue Monday is thin at best and the theory that this is supposedly the day of the year when our mood is likely to be lowest seems to have surfaced only within the last ten years. Nonetheless, there is usually some truth in mythology and January certainly has a reputation for being a most unwelcome month. After all, Christmas is over but winter will barely have begun. Financially, we’re likely to be feeling the pinch after the holidays and due to the cost of energy (especially this coming year).
For these, and various other reasons, you may find it beneficial to promote employee wellbeing on blue Monday and the surrounding days.
Boosting Employee Wellbeing On Blue Monday
There are many ways that employers can make the workplace a more uplifting place to be through the more depressing weeks and on Blue Monday. Whether that’s by introducing special activities or by positively shifting the energy in the office.
It is also essential that you’re supporting your own mental health in January so that you may lead by example. If no one ever sees the boss or the management team taking their lunch breaks or prioritising their wellbeing, it can be a barrier to employees doing so. More importantly, if they can sense stress or frustration from company managers and owners then it may also deter struggling employees from reaching out for support when they need it.
Here are a few ways you can promote employee wellbeing on Blue Monday:
It can be easy to get down when we feel we’re not working towards anything in particular. January can be a quiet time both in our social and in our working lives. The New Year can leave us contemplating the directions we're taking and whether we should be making changes. Some employees may even be using January to consider a job or even a career change. So, whilst business tends to be slow early in the new year, it’s a good time to keep your teams motivated.
Why not work together to make a list of New Years’ Resolutions for the company? Perhaps focusing on furthering your values, extending your reach or being braver and bolder? Bringing your people together creatively to generate ideas and have their say on the future goals of the business is highly motivating, making them feel a part of the journey and showing how much they are valued. Yet, it’s also a great opportunity for you to learn from your staff and perhaps uncover potential in the business you might not have otherwise seen.
Remember, great work is often created in collaboration and great teams work best when everyone is given a voice and purpose. This is especially motivating during that post-New Year’s slump.
We’re far more likely to take proper lunch breaks in the summertime when the weather is bright and warm. It’s not quite so appealing to leave the office on
those colder wetter days. However, our bodies still need fresh air and a walk around to stretch our legs and clear the cobwebs.
During January, encourage your employees to take their lunch breaks away from their desks. Perhaps start a lunchtime walking club or set up an area where everyone can come together to eat and socialise.
Mindfulness & Meditative Activities
After such a busy festive season, the quiet of January can bring on the blues. Yet, there is nothing wrong with a less eventful month. In fact, it can be a great opportunity to reconnect and refocus.
Getting mindful in January can help us to find the clarity we need for optimism in the new year. So why not help your employees find some peace in the quiet with some lunchtime meditation classes or by offering access to Headspace for Work or another mindfulness or meditation app?
January is an ideal time to book workplace wellbeing or mindfulness workshops for your teams if you’re in a position to do so. Not only can this help staff individually, but it can also boost productivity since happier employees make better employees.
Falling approximately 3 weeks after New Year, Blue Monday might be the longest time you’ve gone without an event or social occasion for a couple of weeks. It can seem as though you have suddenly become very isolated and the decrease in social interaction that often occurs after the holidays and during the cold dark winter months can leave us craving company. Although many may be craving the peace and quiet of January after Christmas, it can be a lonely time for others and so may be a good time for a workplace event.
Organisers should be mindful that some people won’t be drinking alcohol during January and invitees may also be more amenable to a low-key event, after the holiday celebrations. Small events directly after work are more accessible and can help employees leave the office feeling positive. After-work pizzas, for example, can be a good way to bring people together in a simple way that doesn’t encroach too much on their personal time. Team brunches or lunches are also a wonderful way to get everyone out of the office to interact, which can assist with employee bonding as well as boosting morale.
Access To Support
Perhaps most important in promoting employee wellbeing on Blue Monday and the surrounding months is to ensure your employees know where to go for mental health support if they need it. Although Blue Monday is mostly linked to feelings of the winter blues, a more serious link can be made between this and depression. Financial strain, lack of motivation and the loneliness that can come in the longer darker months where we can be more vulnerable to isolation can be the beginnings of or can exacerbate mental health problems.
As an employer, you want to support any staff who are dealing with mental health issues. Therefore, having someone in your organisation they can talk openly with, who can offer support both within the workplace and refer them to professionals outside of the company, is essential. Make sure your staff know what to do if they are struggling with feelings of stress, anxiety or depression and ensure they know that anything discussed will remain confidential and not negatively impact their career.
Managers should also be trained in how to compassionately and constructively support members of their team who may be facing mental health problems.
Supporting Remote Workers On Blue Monday
Now that many employees are working remotely, it is important to have processes in place to ensure they too are receiving the support they need and that you are aware of any struggles they may be having.
As above, remote employees should also be made aware (and reminded often) of what to do and who to go to seek support if they are having any personal issues. However, low feelings in January are common and this can affect how employees feel about work.
A few ways you can help remote employees during the lead-up to and on Blue Monday include:
- Regular online video check-ins and regular calls
- Include them in planning and brainstorming for the year ahead
- Create opportunities for remote employees to, for instance, take lead on projects or pitch ideas
- Make sure there are opportunities for remote employees to socialise with others at the company and with each other
- Resist the temptation to contact remote workers outside of office hours so they can maintain their work-life balance
- Discuss and implement training and career development for remote employees
It can be beneficial for some employees, who cannot come into the office, to work in coworking spaces. Of course, not everyone will have access and this would be an extra cost to the company, but being around other people in working environments can be motivating and increase creativity and productivity in some people. Moreover, it can be a mood boost during times when work may become somewhat monotonous and when inspiration may be harder to find.