Blue Monday is the term coined to describe the day calculated to be the most depressing of the year. Typically falling on the third Monday of January, it is said that the weather, our bank balances and returning to work after the Christmas party season all combine to make the most dismal day of the year.
Nearly half of UK employees want to leave their jobs
Whether or not Blue Monday really is the most depressing day of the year is open to debate, but with research by Investors in People, showing that nearly half of us are unhappy with our jobs, feeling demotivated about returning to work can be real for many people.
Blue Monday is a helpful reminder for employers to review how they are supporting their staff. The Health and Safety Executive report that last year 12.5 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression and anxiety, and pointed to lack of managerial support as a leading cause. The Investors in People research backs this up, with 49%* citing poor management as the main reason for wanting to leave their jobs.
Are managers being properly equipped and supported?
Being responsible for the management of individuals and teams can be incredibly stressful, are the managers themselves being forgotten on Blue Monday?
It is critical that managers receive support, not only to deal with any issues they may be experiencing themselves but also in their role as managers. Otherwise, managers can become the cause of workplace stress and staff illness rather than part of the solution to reduce or avoid it.
The causes for mental health issues can be broad-ranging and may fall outside any previous experience a manager has had. Spotting that there is an issue may be the easy part, but knowing how to offer support whilst still fulfilling the managerial role can be challenging. Making sure managers feel properly equipped is essential.
What can companies do?
There is a wealth of help available and it can be confusing to know where to start. Organisations should look for tailored advice, and support specifically for its people managers. Products are available that offer managers access to qualified counsellors who are able to help them constructively and compassionately deal with staff issues before they develop into serious problems. Having an employee assistance programme (EAP) in place is also a good first step for all companies regardless of size, providing all staff with access to professional help
Promoting the use of support programmes is also vitally important because even the most comprehensive programme will not be effective if managers are unaware or uneasy about using it.
Brett Hill, managing director, The Health Insurance Group said: ‘Managers shouldn’t be forgotten on Blue Monday. They have a fundamental role in maintaining staff morale and productivity. Support is available, and companies should take advice on the specific help they can put in place to help managers deal with staff issues before they develop into serious issues.’
Blue Monday doesn’t have to be depressing, companies can use it as a helpful moment to pause and review the programmes they have in place for their staff and especially for their managers. It is also an excellent time to communicate and encourage managers and staff to use the support and resources that are available.