Four ways to help your workforce on Blue Monday

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Written by Brenda Morris on 19 January 2015 in Opinion

Brenda Morris outlines four simple steps that may help your workforce on Blue Monday

Today has been branded ‘Blue Monday’ – the unhappiest day of the year. No doubt, employers will be aware of how factors such as gloomy weather, money troubles following Christmas spending, broken resolutions, and weight anxieties will affect their employees today and perhaps in the weeks ahead. 

Employers need to recognise how conditions such as ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ (SAD), which is prevalent in the short days of winter, could affect those suffering from it, and other employees who are impacted. During this period, managers could see a rise in employee absence and a drop in team morale. Though unplanned absences are common, many are actually unaware of the hidden costs and impacts of it. Kronos recently commissioned a study in collaboration with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and found that supervisors spend an average of 4.2 hours a week – or 5.3 weeks a year – dealing with absences, including finding replacements, adjusting workflow and providing training. It also comes as no surprise that seventy-two per cent of respondents said they noticed more unplanned absences on Mondays and Fridays and before holidays, sporting events and national events. As you can imagine, Blue Monday is probably no exception in these circumstances. In the cases of unplanned absences, overtime was used to cover 47 per cent of employee absences, showing the direct impact that they have on other team members and employees. In order to reduce the effects of these absences, we’d advise that companies track paid time off, whether that’s with a personalised internal system or using technology to automate the process.

It’s vital that employers recognise those suffering from SAD or the effects of Blue Monday, and try to minimise the impact that unplanned absences can have on the rest of the workforce. The good news is that there are things that can be done to help affected employees this week and looking ahead. Here are four simple steps that may help your workforce:

  1. Consider setting up some leisurely activities that encourage employees to exercise together and get those endorphins going – such as a ‘winter-walking’ or jogging group
  2. Encourage staff not to stay at their desks all day, and take lunch and break-times outside in the fresh air – this will help them make better use of the daylight and some winter sunshine, should it be around
  3. Think about making workspaces brighter and more colourful – using art and creative visuals to boost mood and productivity
  4. Ensure there’s plenty of lighting available for each employee – consider investing in special daylight lamps for employees who may be at risk of feeling the effects of SAD and Blue Monday  

January is one of the most challenging times of the year to keep morale and engagement high, so managers and employees must work together to create an environment that reduces the effects of unhappiness in the workplace. Steps like the above, as well as providing employees with more control and flexibility in the hours and days they work, can also limit the effects of SAD in the workplace.


About the author

Brenda Morris is general manager at Kronos UK


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