Blue Monday. A nickname for – supposedly – the most depressing day of the year. But it’s not just one day a year that makes employees blue. So, here’s everything you need to know about how you can tackle blue Monday’s head on and why it should be a priority within your business.
Blue Monday itself is not necessarily grounded in science, in fact it was started as a PR firm, considering things like debt, weather conditions and time after Christmas – again, it’s not a scientific marvel. It gave us Blue Monday – the third Monday in Jan as the most depressing day of the year. But it’s not just one a day a year that the winter blues get to us, and Blue Monday gives us a chance to reflect on some important ideas. Firstly, mental ill-health (stress, anxiety and depression) affects a huge number of people all year round. Secondly, there are opportunities to make every Monday a little less blue. Business leaders in particular should reflect on their workplace culture and consider ways in which they could improve the support available to their employees.
Many companies have already realised the importance of addressing workplace discontent. Jitesh Patel, the chief executive at Peldon Rose said:
“Many of the concerns that underpin Blue Monday, such as post-holiday blues and broken resolutions are largely transient in nature, but our survey reveals that the nation’s employees are actually struggling with longer term issues, such as not feeling valued at work, which are significantly affecting their mental health and wellbeing.
“Employers must acknowledge that both our mental and physical health is affected by our work environment, and that to have a happy and productive workforce they must understand and meet their employees’ needs.”
What can businesses do?
Looking into current mental health statistics, it’s clear we’re a long way off solving the issue of mental ill-health in the workplace. Changes must start from the top; business owners need to move towards making employee wellbeing a priority, ensuring that workers feel comfortable discussing their struggles openly – without fear of repercussions or stigmatisation.
It should go without saying that a workforce with good mental health and wellbeing practices, will be more positive, efficient and motivated. Bellow are a few ideas of how business owners might tackle mental ill-health and improve workplace moral and motivation during these bleaker months.
Address mental health
If it doesn’t already exist, create an effective support system for those who are struggling to cope with stress and depression. This can include both internal avenues of support – headed by a HR team, for example – or else directing employees to external support systems and encouraging them to speak to a professional, whether that’s a GP or a therapist. You could even educate your workforce on new technologies that can help. Online platforms are now able to provide fast and easy access to incredibly valuable services. Busy professionals could certainly stand to benefit from such solutions. I’d personally recommend an app called Youper, an AI platform offering CBT style therapy and support for free.
If your already offering all this support, make sure that everyone knows they are there, bring it up at the next meeting or send out an email. If you see someone struggling, make an effort to support them and help to decrease the stigma and unease around mental health in the workplace.
Recognise and praise good work
It is vital that staff feel motivated, this can be hard when they feel overworked and that their achievements are going unnoticed. It sounds obvious, but it’s important that employers recognise good work when they see it. If you know someone in your staff does a consistently good job but you haven’t told them recently, get out there and do it. Even just a ‘thank you’ can be the difference between night and day. It’s simple, it’s free, and in the long run it will also improve productivity in your workplace, so it’s a win win.
Create an event to look forward to
During the winter months everyone in the office can feel a bit low, so why not create a team event they can look forward to? Ask for suggestions and you can’t wrong. Have a dress-down day next Monday, treat them to a staff lunch at a local restaurant or take everyone out for a drink after work. Better still, kick start the day with a team breakfast to banish tiredness and keep energy levels high. Whatever you do, try to ensure it is something everyone will want to be a part, this way everyone feels part of the team.
Encourage staff to take lunch and breaks
Breakfast isn’t the only important meal of the day. Encourage everyone to enjoy their full lunch break. Ensure your employees feel comfortable taking regular breaks to keep moods lifted. Suggest everyone gets outside, when it’s often dark before and after work, a little bit of sunshine on a break can really improve the mood.
Wear bright colours
Sometimes we dress to reflect our mood. If your office is filled with grey, then it could be that your workforce is down in the dumps. Encourage staff to wear bright colours next Monday and lift everybody’s spirits, make it an event or even a competition, do whatever it takes to bring some colour into the office.
Keep happiness levels up all year round
Banish Blue Monday and boost morale all year round, provide staff with a happier environment in which to work and, ultimately, you’ll increase productivity. Implement these tips all year round, set up a committee to organise social event or arrange a new monthly team breakfast, let your employees know when they’re doing a great job and make sure there are avenues ready for those who need support.
Let employees see the bigger picture
Lastly, do your employees know about growth and success within the company? If they don’t, they might feel uninspired or unmotivated in their work. Knowing that you are doing a good job and making a difference to the bigger picture can be hugely important. Let your employees know that they are important to the company, and that their work is having an impact, what could be more motivating than that?