There is this time of the year, soon after festive celebrations are over, when the high energy that was built up during holidays season finally has to go down. It’s a natural cycle: what goes up has to come down and this is precisely what we can observe every year and what we call ‘January blues’.
There are numerous practical reasons why many people experience lower mood in January: having to go back to waking up early in the morning, facing the credit card bills, trying to live up to the New Year resolutions. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, add to it the weather conditions.
The January blues can lead to decrease in productivity and in some cases create higher than usual employee absence levels, which means that there is a business case behind implementing well-being initiatives during that period of time. Not to mention that this time of the year is known as a period of time when most employees think about changing their job.
However, by turning towards well-being initiatives, employers could not only reduce the risks of January blues, but even benefit from it. The companies have a chance to support their employees during this challenging time and below I explain how it can be done.
Don't let mental health be a taboo subject
Talk about mental health in your office. Talk about it during team meetings and one-on-one catch-ups, or through emails, Slack or other internal channels. Make sure to communicate the main message that: “it’s OK not to be OK”. The effects that January Blues can have on general population so it it's important to promote healthy discussion on the topic in the workplace.
Some employees might be going through a tough time during that time of the year so make sure to include a reminder about employee assistance programme (EAP) in your communication.
If your employees reach out to you directly to flag their mental health challenges, make sure to check with them if they are receiving relevant help outside of work. You can direct them to EAP or suggest other external organisations that they contact, such as:
Phone helpline run by Samaritans (Ireland, UK, SIngapore, Hong Kong and numerous other countries)
Text line run by Crisis Text Line (available in numerous locations around the globe)
- Any local support groups such as those run by Aware (Ireland), peer support groups in the UK or PSALTcare in Singapore.
It's all about small adjustments
There are small adjustments that employers can offer to those suffering from low mood and poor mental health. The goal of these adjustments is to establish an equal ground for all employees by removing obstacles that might be in the way of one performing their job to the best of their abilities. Examples of those adjustments might include:
Incorporating flexible working policy allowing employees to work out side of official opening hours.
Loosening up your working from home policy.
Allowing the mid-day flextime - longer breaks that can be made up by starting work earlier or staying later.
Support Your Employees' Financial Wellness
The data shows that 59% of employees are stressed about their finances. Many of them are the most affected by money worries in the month of January which is why it's a good moment for employers to step up and address those concerns.
- There's a lot that employers can do to support their staff in this regard:
- Run workshops on the topics such as budget planning, debt reduction or savings strategies.
- Consider a partnership with external provider that specializes in financial planning for employees.
- Introduce online training programmes with on-demand financial advice.
- Bring in a finanacial coach for one-to-one sessions.
Embrace the Phenomenon of New Year's Resolutions
Do you know what are some of the most common New Year's Resolutions?
1. Get a promotion / change job
2. Lose wight / get in shape
3. Save money
4. Eat healthier
5. Spend more time with family or friends
The list is quite long! As an employer you have a unique chance to support all these resolutions with your workplace wellness programme. You could:
- Provide healthy snacks throughout the week and promote hydration.
- Offer on-site exercise, yoga or meditation classes.
- Organize corporate gym membership deals.
- Bring online and offline education to your office: workshops, seminars or talks on saving, healthy diet and nutrition.
- Set up family-friendly work policy or other form of work-life balance guidelines.
The amazing thing about challenges that January blues poses on businesses is that it creates an opportunity to show the employees that their employer cares about their health and well-being. As Stephen Richards said: “With every challenge you face, there is an opportunity hidden that will lead you towards the path of wealth and abundance”.