Today is apparently ‘Blue Monday’ – the day calculated to be the most miserable of the year.
A combination of post-Christmas debt, cold dark nights and failed new year’s resolutions are reasons for the third Monday of January being given this less than prestigious title.
Although the idea of one particular day being more depressing than others is often questioned, the January blues can feel very real to many and contribute to slower productivity in workplaces.
Here’s how employers can beat the blues and make a positive start to the year.
Promote development opportunities
“New year, new me” is a common resolution for many people, and employers can tap into that attitude by reminding employees that they can progress within their careers.
Clearly outline training and promotion opportunities within the organisation. During performance reviews, managers can ask employees what their ambitions are and set goals accordingly.
Encourage a healthy workplace
All organisations should be aiming to provide a healthy workplace, with January often being a time when it is needed most.
Many employees may be trying to look after themselves a little more, though exercise, healthy eating, or by being more mindful. Employers can help with this in several ways, such as offering fresh fruit, gym membership benefits, or even by holding a friendly weight-loss contest.
Manage absences effectively
January is cold and wet – and a perfect time for colds to spread. It is important to discourage presenteeism; employees feeling they have to come to work when unwell due to being ‘too busy’ or due to fear of punishment. This harms productivity in the long term.
Sensible absence procedures with appropriate trigger points will help prevent presenteeism. Employees should be able to take time off to recover fully and be able to perform their best when they return.
Offer flexible working
Employees who have flexible working as an option are far less likely to ‘pull a sickie’. It will also reduce the feeling of being thrown straight back into the ‘rat race’ following the Christmas break.
Research from the University of Kent and Vrije University in Amsterdam found that employees able to determine their own schedules worked harder to compensate for the stigma attached to flexible working.
The stigma is also undeserved – Stanford University found that those allowed work flexibly from home increased their productivity by 13%.
Organise a social event
An end-of-month social event such as going for drinks or a meal can boost morale and be something to look forward to. This might contradict the healthy lifestyle ethos of January, but as with everything, balance is key!
As ever, employees shouldn’t be pressured to attend if they don’t want to.