Monday 15th January marks “Blue Monday” - the name given to the day that is claimed to be the most depressing of the year.
But what makes it so glum?
Christmas has been and gone, payday is still two weeks away despite the festive season leaving huge dents in our bank accounts, we’ve given up on New Year's resolutions and we’re half a stone heavier.
Combine this with the miserable weather and the next bank holiday falling at the end of March, and it’s easy to see why productivity and emotions will be low.
To help you tackle the negativity in your office and increase motivation levels, we’ve pulled together some useful tips.
Mood boosting tips
- Show employees you care
It may sound simple, but taking time out of day-to-day working activities will show your employees that you care about their feelings at this time of year.
Consider holding catch-up meetings and workload reviews, to ensure your team members are managing all tasks and deadlines that are set.
During these meetings you’ll be able to address any issues, consider individuals’ wellbeing and levels of stress, and identify if stress management initiatives could be introduced to give your staff support now, and throughout the year.
- Inject fun activities into the workplace
It was once said that “smiling is infectious” and Blue Monday is a great time to encourage people to feel good. In addition, it has been scientifically proven that when you smile your body relaxes and blood pressure can be lowered.
So, why not try a couple of the below tasks to encourage laughter and fun at work.
- Distribute lunchtime quizzes and award a prize to the winning team.
- Introduce a “wall of fame” that recognises employee successes.
- Introduce “dress down Fridays” (if this is suitable in your working environment).
- Create a rota to allow employees to bring their pets to work (if this is suitable).
- Set up a games room that includes a ping-pong table, foosball table or chess set, for use before and after work and at lunch times.
- Introduce off-site team/company lunches.
- Play music at regular intervals when everyone’s energy is starting to slump.
- Create a “social” work calendar which includes away days and after work gatherings.
By investing in your team you’ll boost morale and create a happier workforce. In turn this will help to lower absence levels and increase retention rate as your employees will enjoy coming to work and will feel part of an appreciated team.
- Introduce healthy regimes
From office fruit baskets to after-work exercise classes, many employees may have already committed to “dry january” and improving their health this year, but Blue Monday presents an ideal opportunity to bring it into the workplace.
Any steady movement - from walking, jogging, swimming or cycling - boosts endorphins and will leave you feeling calmer and happier. And, introducing it as a group activity for staff will help to build bonds and a support network for exercise beginners.
In addition, you could take exercise activities outside and capitalise on the daylight, as natural light helps stablilise serotonin and triggers endorphin, mood-boosting hormones.
Absence levels review
In addition to mood boosting activities, it’s good practice to review your organisation’s absence levels, as you may be able to identify trends when comparing previous years during the same time period.
And, consider the reasons for absence and if early intervention could help reduce absence rates.
At FirstCare we work in partnership with our clients to identify all of these triggers, to help businesses put prevention plans in place. For example TEN Group, an educational institution in Norfolk, experienced high levels of mental health related absence and through our support it was able to identify trends, introduce preventative initiatives and reduce it by 48%.