Blue Monday takes place on the third Monday of every January, and has been declared the ‘most depressing day of the year’. Instigated by factors such as individuals being less financially stable after Christmas, miserable due to gloomy weather and starting to fail at their New Years’ resolutions, the term was coined by Sky Travel. As a result, the day has been subject to scrutiny, with many wondering whether Blue Monday is, in fact, the most depressing day of the year, or a PR stunt gone too far.
Regardless, one of the most important things to consider about Blue Monday, despite its uncertain background, is that the day is a fantastic way to instigate discussions about mental health, especially in the workplace.
The Impact of Blue Monday
While the concept may have originated from a marketing campaign, the messaging around Blue Monday has had several important impacts. The first of these is that there is some validity to the claim of Blue Monday, which was based off a formula that took into account the following:
- Time since Christmas and New Years (which are societally regarded as a very social and merry time)
- A return to work
- Poor weather
- Low motivation levels
- Financial status
While this formula is mostly based on assumptions, January is the time of year most commonly associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which impacts your mood, sleep and energy, which can, in turn, negatively impact both your personal and professional life.
As a result, many employers now plan social and educational events throughout January. This has several positive impacts, such as investing into their workforce’s health and well-being, while helping to destigmatise depression and anxiety.
Consequences of Poor Mental Health in the Workplace
Suffering from poor mental health while in the workplace can not only be highly distressing and difficult for the employee in question but have significant impacts on colleagues and an organisation as a whole.
With an employee struggling with productivity and performance, and falling behind on their targets, other members from the team might receive an uptick in their own workload. This could cause other members of the team to begin feeling stressed, therefore instigating a domino effect. Between an increase in stress leading to higher rates of absenteeism, a business is resultantly likely to see an increase in turnover rates.
Higher turnover rates are associated with a drop in employee morale, poor job satisfaction and a less cohesive workforce, meaning this can be highly detrimental to all involved. Of course, while this is highly unlikely to occur in the event of one employee struggling with their mental health – and no employee should ever feel the pressure to avoid declaring their problems, widespread issues may be representative of an issue at the heart of an organisation.
How to Support Employees
The best way to support your employees going through a difficult period of life is by fostering open communication. As Blue Monday helps to ‘bring up’ this conversation, this is a great opportunity for employers to begin planning events, talks or anything else, months in advance.
However, helping employees requires much more than bringing awareness. By fostering a positive work environment in which your staff flourish and ensuring they feel safe and comfortable in their office space, you can ensure they receive adequate support.
In having ‘mental health champions’ and other resources which can offer empathy and kindness, you can moreover cultivate a community in which your employees feel supported, safe and secure in their struggles.
The Role of Management & HR in Supporting Employees
There are several ways that both senior members of the team and HR can help to support any employees impacted by mental health, or larger workforces struggling to meet targets as a result of other team members’ absenteeism. The first of these is by regularly holding 1-2-1s and checking in with your staff, flagging any issues to HR or the relevant department if you notice any significant issues in your employees’ mood or productivity.
This is especially important for high-performing staff, who are more prone to burnout. By having procedures in place that recognise employee achievements – both big and small – in addition to making sure staff have work-life balance structures in place, managers and HR can adequately protect their staff.
Modern office spaces are also trying to combat this issue by introducing features that not only improve the aesthetics of the office, but also foster collaboration. For example, organisations can cater to employee needs via collaborative spaces, roof terraces for staff to socialise, concierge services to run the workday with ease and perks such as free coffee. Simple ideas such as these improve the ambience and community of workspaces and encourage workers to come into the office and feel happy. Workplace well-being is critical for happy staff – and successful businesses.
In conclusion, whether a marketing ploy or not, Blue Monday is a valuable reminder to prioritise mental health discussions in the workplace and to foster a place in which all staff feel safe and supported.
The impact of struggles with mental health on staff and organisations is significant, meaning measures need to be in place to protect all involved. With employers playing a pivotal role in enacting this, creating a positive work environment, whether in a serviced office or traditional lease, is essential. There should moreover be concentrated efforts by all senior staff and HR to ensure that each employee feels they have the resources they need, or that they feel able to approach another person with concerns.
With the well-being of your staff a direct link to the success of your business, prioritising the people in your space isn’t just kind – it’s essential.
Laura joined Orega in 2019 as the Sales and Marketing Director. She is responsible for driving sales, growth and overseeing Orega's marketing and communication strategies. Previously, Laura was Retention Director – Support Services for Compass Group UK & Ireland, responsible for retaining and growing the client base. Prior roles include sales, marketing, client and facilities management. Laura has two young children and enjoys spending her free time with family and friends.