The so-called most depressing day of the year is just around the corner.
Blue Monday – the third Monday in January - is the day where for many the combination of gloomy weather, long nights, and financial pressures after Christmas all gets a bit too much – or so the media says…
According to absence management statistics, this may no longer be the case.
BrightHR specialises in HR tech, tracking global absence trends. Over the last few years they have noticed absence rates slipping on the third Monday in January, and in 2022 it only registered as the 27th highest absence rate for Mondays throughout the year.
The Winter Blues, or more accurately, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a very real issue affecting around 2 million people in the UK, with the main symptoms including depression, lethargy, overeating, and difficulty sleeping.
BrightHR statistics show that only 30% of absences in 2022 occurred during the winter months, which indicates that employers need to prioritise mental health all year round, not just on Blue Monday.
Alan Price, CEO at BrightHR, says: “With 1 in 4 people expected to experience mental health problems at some point this year, and 1 in 6 this week alone, mental health is something that employers simply cannot afford to ignore.
“While at first glance, businesses may think it’s falling absence rates on Blue Monday is positive, it may not be. Presenteeism is a real issue. Are people simply coming to work while struggling due to undue pressure from their employers?
“It’s important to provide effective support for employees. Not only does this demonstrate appreciation for your people and a commitment to promoting positive wellbeing, it’s also essential for maintaining engagement, productivity, and ultimately, business success.
“Effective support doesn’t have to cost a lot. Fostering an open, supportive culture where employees feel comfortable and able to raise concerns to their manager costs nothing. As does encouraging employees to take regular breaks and get some fresh air, something that can work wonders when it comes to boosting good mental health and productivity.”
Andy Reid, Afghan war veteran and BrightHR ambassador, predicts the Winter Blues may hit harder this year. He says, “With the weather so cold and miserable, and households being stretched because of the financial landscape right now, people are struggling to heat their homes, which will add to the mental health strain felt at this time of year.
“Promoting positive mental health among employees is something that must constantly be top of the agenda. Employers should be fostering an environment where staff feel comfortable and able to raise their issues to their managers, confident that effective and compassionate support and guidance will be given. That means having effective mental health policies in place, with the advice and tools required for business owners to make positive changes to help staff through the tough times.”