Wellbeing

Did Blue Monday really happen

Did Blue Monday really happen and what did it mean for employers?

Did Blue Monday really happen and what did it mean for employers? 1800 1200 Growth Partners

This year Blue Monday landed on 18 January 2021 and no doubt you heard the phrase being used a lot.

Blue Monday is the term given to ‘the most depressing day of the year’ thanks to the cold weather, dark nights and often long wait for payday. The day – which technically relates to the third Monday of the year – is heavily linked to mental health and wellbeing concerns. In 2020, the Samaritans helped to address these issues with the birth of the Brew Monday campaign.

So, did Blue Monday really exist again this year, how much did it affect employees, and should you have been concerned about it?  We’ve had a look at whether Blue Monday really impacts employees each year, and some of the concerns employers should be tackling.

Does Blue Monday really exist?

The name Blue Monday was coined in 2004 when a holiday company tasked a psychologist to develop a scientific formula for the January Blues. The formula was to be used by the travel company to sell holidays; focusing on making things better by booking a holiday. Despite the lack of science and financial endeavours behind it, the phrase Blue Monday stuck and has been recognised every year since.

Several charities have raised concern over the focus on Blue Monday, and there isn’t, in fact, any evidence to suggest your employees will be notably more unhappy on any particular Monday in January, or , in fact, in January at all (Mind, 2016).

In 2009, a UK report found that January isn’t the time when your employees are likely to suffer the most with anxiety at all. Suicide rates tend to be at their highest in April and May, which is a key measure used by researchers to monitor mental health and wellbeing.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit and the UK went into lockdown in Spring 2020, mental health issues rose 10% with IFS reporting a quarter of people surveyed experiencing at least one mental health problem.

Although this suggests that Blue Monday doesn’t necessarily exist per se, the term has certainly helped raise awareness of the prominence of mental health and wellbeing in the UK, and the stigma around it is decreasing thanks to the inroads made by charities like The Samaritans and Time to Change.

Is Blue Monday important for employers?

The research into the Blue Monday concept suggests that your employees really can feel blue on any day and as their employer, you have an important role to play in supporting them through these tough times, whenever they occur.

January is statistically the worst month of the year for productivity but less to do with the ‘Blues’ and more to do with the amount of time employees spend catching up with colleagues after the festive break.

Our resident HR expert Claire Antony describes January as the perfect time for employers to check-in with their employees and Blue Monday helps remind us of that.

“This time of year does tend to be tough going as it feels like a really long month, and it can often take staff time to get back into the swing of things after the festive period.

The start of the year is the perfect time to make a plan for investing time in staff and checking-in with them on their plans for a brand new year. Spending time with employees on both their professional and personal goals helps create a richer understanding of what’s driving them and their needs now and longer-term.

This is particularly prevalent with the National lockdown in the UK, adding to the pressures and the potential impact on employees’ mental, physical and financial wellbeing.

We suggest employers make health and wellbeing an every-day focus, but it’s great that Blue Monday helps to shine a spotlight on this, so it takes centre stage.”

Recognition of the positive link between health and wellbeing in the workplace and long-term employee wellbeing is growing, and employers are benefiting from increased productivity as a result.

Three steps to take to tackle mental health and wellbeing in the workplace

1. Openly talk about mental health and feelings

Days like Brew Monday provide an informal and unintrusive way to address mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. If you are open about how you feel at work, especially if you are a leader, it might encourage others to do the same.

Remember your mental health can fluctuate as circumstances change. As you move through different stages in your life, it’s worth checking in at every milestone whether these be a birthday, moving house, or becoming a parent.

Is Blue Monday important for employers

2. Provide professional support for employees

Employee Assistant Programmes are an economical way to offer professional, confidential third-party support to your employees in various areas, such as financial worries, home troubles or mental health concerns.

3. Lead by example

Make sure you take breaks away from your desk, go for a walk at lunchtime, and finish work on time. If you see someone regularly putting in extra hours, approach this as an underlying signal for support or something that needs to change.

Although statistically, Blue Monday doesn’t actually exist, it is clear your employees can feel blue any day of the week.  As their employer, you have a responsibility to support them effectively through all of life’s challenges.

More support with mental health and wellbeing in the workplace

To find out more about Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) email hello@growthpartnersplc.co.uk or leave us a message here You can also call the team for a chat on 0116 340 3116

Sources:

  • COVID-19 pandemic hits mental health, especially of the young and of women, and widens inequalities  – IFS.org.uk
  • Non work-related activities research and report – Hitachi Capital.co.uk
  • Busting the Blue Monday myth with #BlueAnyDay – Mind.org.uk
  • Seasonal spring peaks of suicide in victims with and without prior history of hospitalisation for mood disorders –pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
Working from Home

7 Tips for Managing Working from Home

7 Tips for Managing Working from Home 1800 1201 Growth Partners

There are more people than ever working from home at the moment, with millions of us doing our bit to help beat the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Swapping the office for remote working might be something you only dreamed of a few months ago, but the reality can be very different, with a some finding it difficult to manage and to adjust to lone working.

Even at the best of times, we can struggle to separate work and home life, so when they both happen in the same place, it throws up even more challenges than usual. Whether it’s not logging off until later than normal, working through your lunch break or on the contrary, not working a great deal at all, it’s easy to see why remote working can start to impact business and our health.

To combat these challenging times, here are a few things you can do to try and effectively work from home, while being productive and continuing to maintain a happy, healthy household…

1. Get changed out of your PJs

It’s too easy to slide out of bed, head downstairs and start work all within 2 minutes, but it won’t set you up the same way it would If you were to shower, get dressed and get ‘ready’ for work. Having the same routine as if you were going into the office not only gets you in the right frame of mind, it also avoids any embarrassing situations when your boss video calls you!

2. Create a desk or dedicated workspace

Sitting on the sofa with your laptop on your knee and Friends on in the background might be how you imagined working from home to be, but in reality you’ll soon be feeling lethargic, distracted and aching from poor posture. Instead, set up a dedicated place of work, whether that’s a desk in the spare room, a space on the dining room table or an area of the kitchen. Having a zone that is dedicated to work, with a firm upright chair, will help get you in the right mindset and be more productive while supporting your back and shoulders too.

3. Keep a structure to your day

The beauty of working from home is the flexibility. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl – if you can, adjust your hours accordingly to when you’re most productive. Once you are ready to work however, try to keep a similar structure to the one you would normally have in the office. If you usually have a break at 10am and lunch at 1pm, do this even though you’re at home. It’s easy to lose track of time and work longer than normal, or oppositely, get distracted by home jobs and end up working less. Keeping a structure to your day will ensure you’re putting in the right number of hours while still being productive.

4. Keep in touch

One of the hardest things that home workers face is being alone for a long period of time. As humans, if we don’t communicate with others, we feel lethargic, negative, less able to manage stress, have higher blood pressure and much more. It’s therefore essential during this time where we’re not able to socialise in person, to connect through technology. We’re lucky to live in an era where FaceTime, Skype, social media and WhatsApp are all part of our lives, so it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues. Try having a team call once a day to check in with one another, see how everyone is feeling, and what everyone’s working on, with a family video call later on as well. It’ll help in more ways than you think, both in your personal and work life.

5. Keep active

We clock up more steps than we think in a day at the office – our commute, the walk to the toilet, going to make a cup of tea and so on. Which is why when we work from home, and everything is a lot closer and on hand, we drastically reduce the amount of movement we do in a day. Aim to move every 90 minutes, even if it’s just to walk around the house or to make a cup of tea – getting up and stretching your legs and back will help you focus when you return to work.

6. Get some fresh air

We might be restricted to our homes at the minute, but it doesn’t mean we can’t get outside. If you have a garden and are able to, try and spend 10 minutes in it, pull up some weeds, hang out the washing or even just sit with a cup of tea and take some deep breaths. The fresh air will improve your mood, wellbeing, energy and clear your head ready for you to get back to work. If you don’t have a garden or are not able to go into it, opening the windows in your house or apartment has a similar effect and will improve the air quality throughout your home.

7. Keep a structure to your diet

According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, Britons eat on average 800 – 1,000 additional calories per day without even knowing it! If this takes them over their required intake, it could lead to an increase in weight and blood pressure over a year. Mindless eating is one of the biggest culprits of weight gain, so it’s even more important while you’re at home (and close to the biscuit tin!) to be careful how much you put in your mouth. Keep a structure to your diet, eating at regular mealtimes with a few healthy snacks throughout the day. Not only will it help with the scales, it’ll also help improve your mood, productivity and energy.

We’re all in a very surreal and scary situation at the moment, which none of us are familiar with. Working together, working remotely and working on steps to avoid the spread, while keeping ourselves and families safe, are the top priorities for all of us. Helping to make life run as smoothly as possible is essential, so we hope these tips enable you to get the work-life balance you and your family need during this difficult time.

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