January can be a difficult time of year for many reasons. The pressure to set new year’s resolutions, post-Christmas blues and dark, cold climate can be a struggle. We know that the winter months also trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)—a type of seasonal depression—for some.
At Health Assured, we’ve found that calls to the helpline increased by as much as 16% in January compared to other months. We received tens of thousands of calls from employees last year, with the highest call volumes relating to anxiety, low mood, and depression.
This calls for action from organisational leaders and employers. We must address Blue Monday in the workplace as part of a broader focus on employee wellbeing. Organisations must hit the topic of mental health head-on in 2022 rather than fuelling the stigma or brushing it under the carpet.
Here are some suggestions to hit the ground running and support your employees through Blue Monday.
1. Give people the day off
It seems like a big step to take. But giving people the day off for Blue Monday addresses the issue directly. You highlight your concern for employee wellbeing and recognise the pressures they face day-to-day. This bold yet proactive approach sets your intention for the year ahead. And when employees feel supported, they are more likely to reach out for help should they ever need it.
2. Do a blue themed day in the office to brighten up the mood
Lifting morale and office spirits boost productivity and communication between teams. Mix things up this Blue Monday by hosting a blue themed day in the office. It brings awareness to January’s difficulties and lets employees know that you recognise this. The themed day will also get colleagues talking to each and this can be a major preventative factor to mental health problems.
3. Use the day to re-launch EAP benefits
If you’re currently providing an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), now could be a good time to relaunch this service. It’s easy for employees to forget the services they have access to day-to-day—and even more so in times of need. So let the day serve as a reminder to employees about the type of support they can access through this service. Shout about the benefits and encourage employees to reach out to the service if they’ve been experiencing difficulties.
4. Provide wellness clinics on the day
Another way to approach the day is by using it as a platform to encourage employees to maintain good mental and physical health. You could offer health assessments, host a talk from a mental health professional or provide massages to employees as a way to de-stress. These wellness clinics may encourage employees to focus on their wellbeing throughout January.
5. Arrange a home delivery
As the working from home setup becomes more widespread, employers must find new ways to overcome employee wellbeing challenges. This Blue Monday, you could arrange home deliveries for your working from home colleagues. A small gesture of appreciation can lighten the mood on the day and remind them of what a great place they work at.
Bertrand Stern-Gillet is CEO at Health Assured.