Upon returning to work after the holiday season, it’s not uncommon for employees to be suffering from the January blues. Factors including; weather conditions, rising debt levels, failing to stick to our New Year’s resolutions and seasonal affective disorder, can all affect our motivation levels at this time of year. So is the notion of Blue Monday something employers should take seriously? We explore…
What is Blue Monday?
The term “Blue Monday” typically refers to the third Monday in the month of January, deemed to be the most depressing day of the year.
The term was first coined in 2004, by Psychologist Cliff Arnall, whilst he was working for Sky Travel. Arnal had been tasked him with the job of marketing their January holidays when his genius struck! To illustrate the problem, Arnal presented the following algorithm:
“I was originally asked to come up with what I thought was the best day to book a summer holiday but when I started thinking about the motives for booking a holiday, reflecting on what thousands had told me during stress management or happiness workshops, there were these factors that pointed to the third Monday in January as being particularly depressing,”Cliff Arnol The Daily Telegraph, 2013
Well, it worked! Sky Travel used Arnol’s phrase in a press release to promote their winter deals.
So, What Does Blue Monday Mean for my Business?
Ah yes, we’re glad you asked – back to the point! Blue Monday fever has resulted in many calling in ‘sick’ or even calling it a day with their job altogether!
The University of Exeter found that the Blue Monday could cost the UK economy £93 billion! But does this mean employers do have some reason to worry?
Internet traffic and analytical research further implied that there was a method to Arnol’s Blue Monday madness. In fact, on average, someone Googles the term ‘depression’ every two seconds (in the UK) on Blue Monday.
How can I Improve Staff Morale Without it Costing the Earth?
So you want your staff to be happy? Great! Here are some easy ways to boost staff morale:
- Getting together: Friday night drinks are always a hit and provide the office with something to talk about on Monday!
- Staff rewards: It is highly important that staff feel valued and have their efforts noticed. Take time to celebrate the success of individual staff members, not just the business. This doesn’t have to be expensive, a small reward could be enough to boost the office mood and make staff feel recognised.
- Green Monday: If Blue Monday is all about feeling down, why not have your own Green Monday! Encourage staff to get active is bound to make them feel good. For example, hold an activity like yoga or mindfulness. You could even introduce some plant-life into your office space!
Do I Provide Enough Support as an Employer?
Feel like you want to take a step further? At Social Chain, wellbeing and mindfulness are at the heart of their company culture. A recent focus on mental health at the agency has been exceptionally well received.
Not unusually, the business decided to offer free counselling services to staff as part of their benefits package. However, many were too shy to put themselves forward for the service, especially men.
To remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues, the company changed its policy, making sessions mandatory for each staff member. Staff only had the option to ‘opt-out’ if they felt that they did not need the service. The result? Not a single person opted out.
Now, we’re not saying you have to employ a company councillor but it helps to occasionally put yourself in your employee’s shoes and ask questions such as: Do I offer a good benefits package? Do my staff get regular breaks/ time off?
Making small tweaks accordingly may not make that much difference to your bottom line. Although it could make a huge difference to your employee’s work-life balance and have a positive effect on productivity.
According to a survey by WorkPlaceDynamics, those who implemented flexible work plans reported an 89% retention increase!
Are my employees happy?
The more a member of staff feels that they are listened to and valued, the more likely they are to work harder.
According to Forbes Magazine, Paid sick-leave days costs employers $160 billion annually. Alternatively, decreasing stress and health risks saves employers money and promotes a higher quality of life. It makes sense, really.