The decorations have been put in storage, there’s an empty space in your living room where your Christmas tree sat proudly just a short while ago ...
The decorations have been put in storage, there’s an empty space in your living room where your Christmas tree sat proudly just a short while ago, and what was left of the festive treats have now been eaten (besides the odd lonely Bounty in the last tub of Celebrations). Yep, once again the festive season is well and truly over - and you and your employees are back in work,
well-rested, and ready and raring to go. Right?
Well, maybe not quite.
‘Blue Monday’ is the term on everyone’s lips right now, from clothing retailers to travel agents, and everything in between. According to this phenomenon (which was coined back in 2005), January is home to the ‘most depressing day of the year’, with this date often falling on the third Monday of the month. This year, it has just so happened to land on the 20th.
According to the original Blue Monday study, which was published by Dr. Cliff Arnall, this date was chosen due to a combination of factors including the weather, low motivation levels, debt, and the time since we’re likely to have failed our New Year’s resolutions. However, while many of us agree with Garfield that Monday is the worst day of the week, is there actually any truth to the science behind Blue Monday?
With the term ‘Blue Monday’ being coined as part of a PR stunt by a holiday company, it’s easy to be sceptical about its validity. Yet with so much anticipation building up to Christmas (even if you don’t celebrate it) and it being over in what seems like a flash, it’s normal to feel deflated after the festive period has ended and you trade in the lie-ins and spending time with your family for 6:00 AM alarms and sitting in rush hour traffic.
However, it’s important to remember that for many people, feeling down isn’t limited to just one day of the year. In fact, around 1 in 4 people in the UK alone will experience a mental health problem (such as depression or anxiety) each year. This means that raising awareness of these struggles shouldn’t just be limited to the third Monday in January, and then again in October on
World Mental Health Day.
Workplace stress is a particular issue that can affect our mental health, so supporting your employees is paramount to ensuring their well-being. With that in mind, here are some tips for creating a positive workplace not just in January, but all throughout the year...
Modern life demands a lot from us. From everything that comes with caring for our children and other relatives, to expected and unexpected doctor’s and dentist appointments, we all have commitments that sometimes fall within the hours of our 9-5. As an employer, one way you can ease the stress of juggling various responsibilities is by offering flexibility to your employees in terms of where and when they work.
Whether it’s flexible working hours or the ability to occasionally work from home, flexibility has become one of the most desired perks by employees, with 59% of people telling TotalJobs that this is the most important benefit they look out for when searching for a new job. Though (sadly) this isn’t possible for all roles and industries, a number of office workers whose work is based online can certainly reap the benefits of flexible working from time-to-time.
When workers don’t feel that their efforts are being acknowledged, it can quickly lead to them becoming disgruntled, resulting in a low mood, feelings of worthlessness, and a lack of drive and motivation. According to the Blue Monday phenomenon, these are things that many of us are already struggling with when we head back to work in January, so tackling this is sure to give a much-needed positivity boost to the employees in your workplace.
If you have a large workforce, naming an employee of the month can be a great way to ensure that as many of your staff are being recognised for their hard work as possible all year round. Providing incentives such as monetary bonuses, a small gift or even an additional day off work will be greatly appreciated, as well as great motivators for others to go the extra mile to achieve these rewards themselves.
Focus on teambuilding
With us spending approximately 40 hours a week with our co-workers, ensuring we have a close and open relationship with them is incredibly important for increasing morale. If employees have a good rapport with their colleagues, they will feel far more comfortable reaching out to them for help when needed. This means that they’re likely to feel happier at work, experience less stress, and produce a better quality of work. After all, two heads are better than one.
Organising regular sporting events (such as lunchtime sporting matches or even a run club) is a great way to encourage teamwork - and by being active, everyone will also feel less guilty about the number of mince pies and chocolate they consumed over the holidays. If your workforce is made up of more ‘fitness-phobes’ than fitness fanatics, meals, drinks or other fun activities such as bowling or mini-golf can also be a great way to encourage your staff to bond with each other.
Offer help and support
Finally, it’s vital to let your employees know that they don’t need to struggle in silence - and if they do need help, they can easily get this from work. Because of this, you should aim to create an open workplace that encourages discussion around mental health and discourages it from being considered a ‘taboo’ subject. Organising regular mental health training and workshops can be extremely beneficial for raising awareness of such issues, encouraging staff to spot the signs and support others who appear to be struggling.
As an employer, you have a duty of care to do all that you reasonably can to support the health and well-being of your staff. Arranging regular confidential one-to-one meetings with individual employees is also vital so they can talk about how they feel and share any issues they’re facing (both inside and outside of work), letting you know if you need to take action.
Whether you believe in the effects of Blue Monday or not, workplace stress, a lack of motivation and other issues can affect any of us at any time - not just after the festive period has drawn to a close. However, by taking the steps to provide an open, positive working environment all year round, you can help your employees feel supported, leading to a healthier, happier and more productive workforce.
Written by Chris Griffiths with Louise Cunnah. Chris is a world-leading creativity expert and creator of the app www.ayoa.com – a platform used by top thinkers to boost productivity.