While January is the month of setting new goals and resolutions, it can also be quite a difficult time for many people. Today is Blue Monday, deemed to be the most depressing day of the year. Though there is no scientific basis behind this day, there are many factors that make the first month of the New Year a bit challenging such as post-holiday season blues.
Despite its negative connotations, Blue Monday is an opportunity for employers to create mental health awareness in the workplace. So how can employers keep staff motivated and boost their morale, whether they are working remotely or in the office? Ramsey Aburaneh, Head of Digital Growth at BrightHR, has provided information below on how to help keep your staff feeling positive and optimistic during these times.
Employers can turn Blue Monday into a much-needed day of celebration! Here are a few ways you can achieve that.
After-work happy hour Plan a fun event with your team. With work from home becoming a norm, you could hold a virtual happy hour after work and use this hour to catch up with the team or book team building activities such as escape rooms. Use the happy hour as an opportunity for the team to catch up and find out how everyone has planned out for the New Year.
Organize a mental health talk With everything going on in the world now mental health is so important. You can host a talk by a mental health expert on how to maintain mental wellbeing during challenging times. This would be a good way to acknowledge the hardship everyone is going through and emphasize the importance of self-care, eating healthy, and exercising daily to ward off stress and depression.
Connect employees to mental health resources
Remind your team the resources your business has to assist them with mental health. If your business does not have an employee assistance program, share external resources with employees.
Recognize good work Acknowledging the hard work of employees makes them feel valued and appreciated. Organizing work socials and holding contests around holidays with rewards, such as gift cards, is another way to keep employees motivated at work. Even a small gesture, such as a shoutout over team chats is a nice way to recognize good work.
Spread out the cheer If you have a workplace social committee and the resources, you could observe the Blue Monday week as a mental health awareness week in your workplace. The activities described above could be spread over five days, creating more opportunities to open conversations on the importance of good mental health. By doing so, you’d be turning the so-called most depressing day of the year into something positive.
What steps can you take to improve mental health in the workplace?
Have a mental health policy for your workplace
Your mental health policy should set down the protocol to follow when an employee makes a mental health disclosure and requests accommodation. It’ll help provide clarity to both employees and supervisors on what to do in such a situation. You may also want to provide training to your supervisors to be able to handle such requests and discussions sensitively. Include your mental health policy in your employee handbook and share it with your staff.
“It's important to ensure the policies put into place can be easily communicated to staff. It can be frustrating to create a new policy, especially if it’s a new policy. However, by utilizing smart HR software apps, templates are easily accessible for businesses. These reliable templates, that are created by experts, make it easy for employers to put a new policy into place efficiently, whenever they need one.
Check in with remote staff If all or some of your employees are working from home, make sure to check in with them virtually. It is easy to blur the line between home and office when working from a home office. If you notice an employee struggling to set boundaries (is online after work hours or on the weekends), reach out to them and review whether you need to re-assess their workload. Encourage your employees to strive for a work-life balance and not overwork themselves.
If you notice any signs of poor mental health, such as visible stress and exhaustion, decline in productivity, changes in behaviour, or increased absenteeism, schedule a one-on-one chat with your employee to find out what issue they may be struggling with.
Encourage staff to take regular breaks This applies irrespective of whether your staff is office-based or remote. Advise your staff to take short breaks through the day and step out during lunch to get some sunlight. Make sure your employees take their designated days off.