January can be hard on your workforce. The excitement of the festive season seems a distant memory, people are feeling the pinch after Christmas; the days are dark and short, and the weather is bleak. Top this off with seasonal illnesses and failed New Year's Resolutions, and you get an amalgamation of disappointment and frustration. You may begin to see the morale of your workforce hit an all-time low.
'Blue Monday', the so-called most depressing day of the year, is fast approaching. The combination of being fed up of winter, post-Christmas credit card bills, bleak weather, and the back to work blues supposedly reach a head on the 21st January. While the concept of Blue Monday may just be pseudoscience, January does bring a focus on mental health. So, what can organisations do to ensure the wellbeing of employees and stop productivity from taking a nose dive?
How can you improve the mood in your workplace?
While every business will experience some degree of the January blues, this shouldn't be accepted as an inevitable aspect of the new year. Below are a few ideas to help you raise a smile and keep your workforce cheery and motivated in January and beyond.
Low mood can tempt people into staying indoors and avoiding exercise. Being active is not only great for physical health, but for mental health too as being outdoors exposes people to natural light and boosts their levels of vitamin D. Encouraging staff to take a quick walk at lunchtime will blow away the cobwebs and give them a much-needed pick me up. When your employees are back in the office, make sure that you leave the office blinds open where possible to let the light in.
Offer flexible working hours
Travelling to work and leaving in the dark can have a negative effect on your employee's wellbeing. Giving employees an element of control over their working hours gives them the option to leave work early to pursue their hobbies or family commitments when there’s still sunlight. Organisations who offer flexible working hours are also less likely to report issues with employee absenteeism and workers coming into work when they’re unwell.
Good mood foods
It may be tempting to fill up on sugary treats in winter as the dark days and dreary weather can make you feel lethargic. However, as tempting as they are, these foods only give a short-term boost in energy and can increase feelings of fatigue in the long run as the body comes down from the sugar high. Consider providing employees with free healthy snacks such as fresh fruit and raw vegetables along with nuts and seeds to give them a natural boost of energy.
Organise a social event
This needn't be as excessive as the office Christmas party, but a small social event could help raise the spirits of your employees. Something as simple as a coffee morning can bring people together to catch up after the Christmas break. By re-connecting with colleagues, employees may feel less isolated and more motivated to get back into the swing of things.
Invest in development
If some members of the team are feeling stuck in a rut, giving them something to strive towards can be a great motivational tool and great way to kick off the new year. Invest some budget into new training and development opportunities from one-day courses to longer term formal qualifications. Not only will your business benefit from upskilling its staff, but employees will also appreciate the challenge and investment in their future.
Recognise and reward
Everyone likes to feel valued for their hard work, and if achievements go unnoticed, employees may begin to feel demotivated and disengaged. It's important that employers recognise a job well done when they see it, and a quick 'thank you' may be all it takes to inject some enthusiasm back into your team. So, if you're aware that some of your staff are consistently doing a good job but you haven't told them so, Blue Monday could be a great time to do it as it may help them to feel more positive and motivated.
Offer employee benefits
If you want to look beyond January and Blue Monday and boost morale on a long-term basis, employee perks are a great place to start. Death in service benefit could offer several advantages to both employers and employees. Death in Service is a life insurance policy taken out by you, the employer on behalf of your employees. It aims to pay out a lump sum to employee's loved ones in the unfortunate event of their passing. A death in service policy covers employees at no cost to them and may offer peace of mind by ensuring their loved ones will be looked after financially in the event of their death. It is a low-cost way of providing a highly desirable benefit for your employees, which shows you care about your staff and their loved ones.
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Remember, whether Blue Monday or not, it's important to recognise the difference between an employee who feels down and someone who is suffering from clinical depression. Click here to read more about how you can spot the signs of depression in your employees and how you can offer support.