We’ve all been there, clock watching on a Monday afternoon. Even when you love your job Monday’s can be a drag and no Monday is worse than the third Monday of January. 

The third Monday of January, often called Blue Monday, is normally regarded as the worst working day of the year. Nobody really wants to work that Monday and staff productivity is normally very low as people readjust to being back at work after a long and enjoyable Christmas break. 

There is debate whether Blue Monday is an actual phenomenon or just a gimmick, but whichever side of that fence you land on it can’t be denied that productivity and morale tend to dip in January overall.

So, putting some initiatives in place to help keep staff morale high during January is a good idea if you want an engaged workforce that knows you care about their wellbeing. These initiatives can be focused around Blue Monday or spread across all of January.

It never hurts to check on the wellbeing of your teams and working with your staff to brighten the mood in January can have a positive impact on your company and employees that lasts right through the year.

In this article, we’ll look at where Blue Monday came from and suggest some initiatives you can adopt that’ll brighten up Blue Monday and all of January for your staff.

What is Blue Monday and why is it called that? 

Blue Monday is supposedly the saddest day of the year. The combination of short days, miserable weather and the return to reality after the festive period leaves a lot of people feeling unmotivated and glum.

The term Blue Monday was first coined by Dr Cliff Arnall in 2005 after working with Sky Travel to try and algorithmically predict the saddest day of the year. The day they decided on was the third Monday of January and, believe it or not, the day Blue Monday was originally a marketing ploy to get people to book more January holidays. 

Despite its initial purpose, the term Blue Monday was adopted en masse by the British public and it’s now widely believed to be the saddest day of the year. HR teams tend to plan morale boosting initiatives around the date as it’s a good way to get staff reengaged after the Christmas break. 

Whether you buy into the Blue Monday hype or not, it never hurts to check on staff wellbeing and morale in January. Below we’ve listed four ways your HR team can use Blue Monday as a tool to engage with your staff and check everything’s going ok for them in January.     

How can HR teams help individuals get through Blue Monday and the rest of January?

There’s lots of things HR teams and businesses in general can do to lift morale on Blue Monday. January can be a slog at the best of times but if your HR team is proactive and implements some of the ideas below it can really help get everyone in your office or workplace back into the swing of things.  

Have a friendly chat and catch up with your team members

Sometimes the simplest things are the most effective and nothing can pick up a person’s mood like a friendly chat. Just checking in with each of your team members for five minutes, asking about their Christmas break and what they’ve got planned for January can really relieve a lot of that start of the year stress.

A friendly catch up can be extremely useful if your team is still working from home. Planning some Zoom calls on Blue Monday can help you connect with staff that are maybe feeling isolated in their home offices. Make sure the chats are non-work-related too. The whole point is to reduce stress, not increase it. 

Some good topics of conversation are New Year plans, favourite Christmas presents, what Netflix shows people have been binging; anything that lets your business connect with your team members on a more personal level. Let them know you’re interested in their holiday and you’re glad to see them back at work.  

These chats don’t need to be done one-to-one either. You can arrange group calls or get people in the office a free lunch and have a catchup in person on Blue Monday. HR software can really help you arrange these virtual catchups. Even if you can’t host the calls on your HR software you can arrange the times and send out reminders using your HR platform. Anything that gets your teams talking is great. 

Use Blue Monday to encourage holiday bookings

Blue Monday was originally used to help travel agents sell more holidays in January so you might as well jump on the hype. January can feel like a long slog. There’s nothing to look forward to in January and everyone’s out of money. Even when you finally get to the end of January, February isn’t that much better. 

By encouraging staff to use Blue Monday to book, or even just research, what they might like to do on their summer holidays you’re giving them something to look forward to and take their minds off the drudgery of January.

You could send out an email which has a link to your HR software’s holiday booking portal as a way to get your team looking at their year ahead. HR software is also great for managing the holiday booking process which means the HR team doesn’t need to be stressed about a slew of holiday requests all coming in at once in January.

If your company has holiday incentives for high performers, you could use Blue Monday as the day you announce your quarterly and yearly sales or revenue targets. This is a great way to motivate your team and it gets them thinking about how they can achieve their goals to go on holiday.     

Use the day to share positive feedback 

Constructive and timely feedback is always important. If you want your employees to grow, improve and become better at their jobs then offering useful feedback and guidance is a must. 

But the start of a New Year, and Blue Monday especially, is a great time to share positive feedback with your teams. You can look back at your previous year and share all the good things people have done in your business. It’s a great time to reinforce how individual staff members have contributed to the bigger picture in your business and you can set out a broad strategy for things going forward.

Letting your employees know they’re valued and you can see how their role is helping the overall business to succeed is a really easy way to pick up people’s mood and keep them engaged in work during the winter months.  

Speak about mental health

Blue Monday is a great opportunity to speak about mental health more broadly with your staff. We are two years into a pandemic and everyone is feeling a little worn out. Add January into the mix and you can see why some people might struggle at the start of the year. 

Blue Monday is also a good time for your business to review its internal mental health and wellness initiatives too. You could send out resources to staff or collate them altogether in your HR software. Whatever you do speaking about mental health on Blue Monday is a good way to check in with your teams and make sure they’re all ok. 

Do you need help planning wellness initiatives in 2022?

If you’re looking for ideas and advice on what wellness initiatives to deploy in your company in 2022 Phase 3 can help. We’re a HR software consultancy that helps HR teams improve their processes and find the right HR software for their needs. If you’d like to hear how we can help you contact us here to find out more.   

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