Blue Monday falls on the third Monday of January, which means this year it falls on the 17th January. Blue Monday’s namesake has nothing to do with the New Order song (unfortunately), but instead comes from the fact January is cold and dark, and everyone is socially (or otherwise) hungover from the December celebrations. Not to mention the financial squeeze from all of the end of year spending! That being said, here are some tips that employers can use to keep their staff chipper as we head into the new year.
Now, we aren’t suggesting you party like its New Year’s Eve after the end of every working day. As fun as that sounds, it’s not particularly great for maintaining productivity – let alone workplace wellbeing! That being said, as an employer it is worth organised some team building activities, socials, or work drinks to help keep that team cohesion together and lift everyone’s spirits. It doesn’t have to be based around alcohol consumption, but a fun, engaging (and Covid-safe) evening here and there is sure to lift your team’s mood.
One of the biggest issues at the minute adding to the issue of Blue Monday is the background rumblings of Covid. We have touched upon this in previous articles, but it is worth reiterating. Businesses have been affected in many different ways by the latest wave of the pandemic. For some, there has been a return to remote working which massively affects team cohesion and office buzz. For others where remote working is not an option, there may be added anxieties around maintaining Covid-safe environments and travelling to and from work. As an employer, it is important to remain flexible to your employees’ needs, and recognising that there is a spectrum of feeling when it comes to the pandemic. Respect is key!
If you think about it, emphasising an arbitrary day of the year as one where everyone is sad is probably not the best for workplace wellbeing. It puts pressure on those with pre-existing mental health issues, and the build-up to the day can create a feeling of anxiety. It is also key to remember that Blue Monday is not scientifically proven: there are no significant increases in mental health referrals to both private and public sector organisations in January. Instead, it has been argued that Blue Monday was originally conceived as a PR stunt by holiday companies to increase bookings in January, not an attempt to raise awareness for mental health.
The key with Blue Monday, whether you want to call it that or not, is the emphasis on mental health. As an employer, it is your responsibility to maintain the wellbeing of your staff. Mental health is key to this. Not only does mental health massively impact your employees, but it undoubtedly leads to unnecessary cost and a significant loss of productivity. That is why it is so important that your employees have compassionate, effective and responsive mental health services that they can rely on. If you have not already done so, it is up to you as an employer to take preventative and proactive action to maintain your employees’ healthy mental wellbeing. The reward for getting this right is a happier, healthier and more productive workforce, and a more successful organisation.