How can businesses help employees beat the “January Blues”?
With Christmas already a distant memory, and most employees “back at the coal face”, January can be a particularly bleak month, especially for those with existing mental health issues. Add to this, the gloomy weather and our tight purse strings, January is bad enough but when you combine it with a Monday, you get something else entirely.
“Blue Monday” is the name given to the third Monday in January and has been coined as the most depressing day of the year. This year, “Blue Monday” fell on Monday 16th January. However, with 1 in 4 of us experiencing depression at some point in our lives, according to the mental health charity Mind, “Blue Monday” provides an opportunity for employers to focus on how they can support their teams.
First and foremost, businesses should think about the policies, working practices and wellbeing support it provides to drive an open culture where employees feel supported and comfortable seeking support for mental health issues. Creating an open culture starts with positive, approachable and supportive team managers who are leading by example, as workers will look to line managers for guidance and reassurance.
Strong and positive work cultures rely on authenticity and excellent internal communication – including investing time in encouraging colleagues to share more with one another about their lives both in and out of work. An example of how businesses can actively encourage this is to build regular networking sessions and “wellbeing breaks” during the working day. Given the current climate whereby many people are working from home, it is crucial to emphasise the importance of having clear lines between work and personal lives to protect against burnout.
Flexible working arrangements can also have significant positive impacts on employee mental health. Every individual face daily challenges when working from home, ranging from broadband issues to homeschooling, and looking after vulnerable household members to inadequate space to work. By reaching out to individual employees to understand their home situations, employers are better positioned to make reasonable adjustments to support their people, and therefore optimise productivity.
Our final point in this blog is to stress the importance of creating fun working environments to ward off the January blues – businesses are so much better now at staying connected with employees within hybrid working environments than they were two years ago – virtual coffee mornings, online quizzes, staff competitions and post-work drinks and employee awards over Zoom are simple and cost-effective ways to inject fun and relaxing social activities into working environments.
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