It’s a brand new-year, and for many people this means an exciting, fresh new start. For others, this period (and the month of January in particular) can be the gloomiest in the year. Whilst we all acknowledge that January only has 31 days, it can feel more like 61 days for some, and the half-way point of what is considered the longest month of the year is “Blue Monday”; the day perceived to have the highest workplace absence rate.
What is Blue Monday and why should HR Teams be aware of it?
Gone, is the festive joy, the last of the Quality Streets and the promised New Year’s resolutions. All that appears left is the extra pounds (on your thighs and not in your wallet), a liver that could do with your attention and that awful sinking feeling that you need to change things in your life, including your job.
This doesn’t sound like the fresh new start lots of us are looking for with a new year, does it?
The good news is that Blue Monday does not actually exist and is certainly not a scientific fact. It was a marketing stunt dreamt up by a psychologist who goes by the name of Dr Cliff Arnall and started almost 20 years ago. It’s supposed to account for the long stretch until pay day, the worsening weather, dark nights and lapsed new years resolutions. It’s also linked to the “winter blues”, Ior seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which affects around 2 million people in the UK and can affect any age, including children.
The holiday cheer subsides leaving behind a feeling of emptiness for some which we feel the need to fill. Some of us will think the answer is to change our job role, infact, research published from Glassdoor identified that almost 1 in 5 people in the UK will change jobs in January.
Navigating the “Blues” and beyond
As Employers, if we acknowledge that employees might start to feel like this at the start of a new year, what are we doing to address this, and what more can we do? Its important to recognise that not all voluntary turnover is bad, an employee with a bad attitude or one who consistently fails to perform might actually be a welcome relief. Turnover becomes a problem when you cannot hold on to your skilled employees and this negatively impacts the bottom line.
As an Employer, it is crucial to understand what make your employees “tick” and its not always about money. Giving salary increases is not always the answer and can be a very expensive mistake to make.
When was the last time you conducted an Employee engagement survey? This is the ideal platform to gain insight as to what your employees like, what they don’t like, why do they enjoy working for you etc. Most importantly, what have you done with this data?
Top Tips for Addressing the Challenges of Blue Monday
Communication and Feedback
Encourage employees to share concerns and frustrations. Feeling heard and listened to can significantly impact job satisfaction. Carry out an Engagement Survey, share the results and be honest about the changes that can be made and by when. Keep everyone informed of progress made.
Employees are more likely to stay if they feel valued and can see how their role impacts the overall company goals. Ensure annual reviews are completed and objectives are continuously followed up throughout the year, discuss opportunities and invest in training.
Acknowledge the potential challenges of “Blue Monday” and the post-holiday period. Offer mental health resources, encourage breaks, create a supportive atmosphere and encourage a healthy work life balance by avoiding an excessive workload after the festive period. Be an ambassador and encourage conversations on these.
Recognition and Appreciation
Small gestures of recognition can boost morale and motivation and a simple thank you can go a long way.
Foster a sense of belonging by strengthening connections in the team. See Blue Monday as an opportunity to do something fun with the team.
Blue Monday may a have a rather gloomy reputation, but hopefully we can use this day as a reminder to prioritise and value our people. If you would like to discuss any aspect of blue Monday, employee engagement, workplace wellbeing or any other HR or people challenges, please contact Frances Wood, or your usual AAB People contact.