Employers have been warned not to forget about employee wellbeing after ‘Blue Monday’, with today cited as an opportunity to begin engagement with staff about issues including mental health.
The third Monday of every January, ‘Blue Monday’ was coined by psychologist Cliff Arnall in a bid to identify the peak of January ‘blues’, and in recent years has become a date noted by employers keen to improve the wellbeing of staff.
However, firms should avoid being seen to pay lip service to the concept by only taking mental health and wellbeing seriously for one day of the year, commentators have warned.
Clare Moore, Head of Marketing at HR platform People First, said managers should understand each member of their team at a “human level”, and maintain that connection throughout the rest of the year.
“That means learning about each employee, their experience at work and, importantly, maintaining meaningful contact,” she told CXM.
“This is achieved through regular check-ins. This can now be facilitated by technology, so that regardless of whether the manager and employee is in the location, they can still have the same opportunity to meet and discuss any potential issues that may arise and put the right strategies in place to support them,”
Ms Moore added: “Businesses that only take mental health seriously on a singular day such as Blue Monday or week are simply not acting responsibly, and therefore risk harbouring unhappy employees with lower productivity which ultimately impacts the service your customers experience.”
Meanwhile, Philip Richardson, partner and head of employment at Stephensons Solicitors LLP, said employers unsure of how to begin the engagement process can use Blue Monday as a starting point.
“For many of us, feelings of stress and unhappiness, whether at work or at home, aren’t limited to one day per year, but rather a perennial problem that can have a significant impact on our mental and physical wellbeing,” he said.
“The need for employers to foster a culture of openness around mental health has never been greater and while it can often have a lot of negative connotations, Blue Monday can be used as an opportunity to engage with staff on these issues.
“For employees, it’s equally important to be open with their manager or HR team. What changes can be made and accommodated in order to help you?
“Can you explore flexible working arrangements or remote working? By law, all employees who have worked for their employer for more than 26 weeks have the right to request flexible working and in many cases, where appropriate, employers are more than willing to accommodate this arrangement.
“You can also look at setting clear boundaries about ‘checking-in’ after work hours, banishing the urge to check emails for instance.”