From the most wonderful time of the year, to the most depressing – January is dark, drab, and dismal right? And it only gets worse when we come to Blue Monday, bringer of the very worst case of the Mondays possible. But what and when is Blue Monday? Are the rumours true, and it’s a cheap marketing ploy, or is it a legitimate awareness day? Well, it may be that it’s both.
What is Blue Monday?The concept of Blue Monday was popularised by the marketing department of a UK travel agency – where the idea of the ‘most depressing day of the year’ was used to flog holidays. Based on a formula that’s now agreed to be mostly nonsense, it calculated Blue Monday based on factors like poor weather, low motivation, failed resolutions, and time since Christmas.
When is Blue Monday?Though the Blue Monday date varies, it’s generally agreed to fall on the 3rd Monday in January – a day distanced enough from Christmas, but still too far from the promises of spring. Make no mistake, we’re all aware of the numerous elements at play when it comes to people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing, but this is supposedly a day where things look particularly bleak.
Blue Monday: depressing day, PR ploy, or awareness opportunity?First things first, mental health is a big challenge for organisations. 1 in 6 employees have mental health problems, and work is the biggest stressor in people’s lives – even more than debt. This can be seen in the way that 21% have called in sick due to stress, and 42% have considered quitting thanks to work-related stress. So though you may despair at the idea of marketers exploiting mental health matters for commercial gain, are they meeting the greater good of spreading awareness? Where 30% feel they can’t talk to their manager about stress, starting a wider conversation is still important. Because although we’ve all agreed that mental health matters, we’re still not great about speaking about it.
Saddest day of the year? Maybe not, but it’s not a bad time to consider workplace wellbeingBlue Monday may be a myth, but the value of employee wellbeing isn’t. It’s good for your teams’ productivity, your organisation’s performance, and your general business success – so it’s really a win-win if you choose to prioritise your wellbeing strategy this year.
Supportive ideas to beat Blue Monday factors:
- Weather: Keep the office at a comfortable temperature for all and, if that’s not possible, be flexible about working from home – especially if it avoids a commute on a soggy bus seat or a blizzardy bike ride.
- Debt: Maybe you’re not in a position to give a New Year bonus to your team, but you can help them out in small ways – like providing a free breakfast, and directing them to helpful money management guides.
- Monthly salary: The New Year is a perfect time to review your salaries, and check you’re paying in line with industry averages – make sure people have a progression plan for reaching that next step.
- Time passed since Christmas: With the decorations down and festive tunes switched off, things automatically feel bleak – so inject some cheer in the form of positive New Year goals, and sweet treat-fuelled planning sessions.
- Time since failure of New Year’s resolutions: One lapse doesn’t mean you have to give up. Use our New Year’s resolutions advice and help your employees improve their own wellbeing in the long run.
- Low motivation levels: January is a funny time, where plans have barely been laid and the rest of the year looks quite daunting. Keep motivation levels up by setting out the year’s activities with your team now, so they can look forward.
- Feeling a need to take action: Beware the New Year jobseekers. Employees might be looking for a fresh start, so it’s a good time to review your EVP and make sure no-one’s career is being overlooked – consider offering time for training.