Back in 2006, the PR team at Sky Travel came up with a pretty effective marketing campaign – Blue Monday. The concept was simple – naming the third Monday in January as, supposedly, the most depressing day of the year thanks to a combination of bad weather, post-Christmas Blues, ‘new year, new me’ and work pressures – with the aim to encourage people to book a break away; escape the madness.
Whether the original calculation of this date is considered pseudo-scientific or not, Blue Monday has since become a day that HR professionals prepare for every year. It’s now a day, acknowledged by businesses, that resignation numbers increase and employees’ feelings of job uncertainty heighten when they are faced with new targets and daunted by new challenges.
So how do companies navigate this time of year, when recent data from the Office of National Statistics found that 1 in 5 adults in the UK experienced some form of depression in the first quarter of 2021?
Perhaps, Blue Monday isn’t really a myth and we should use it as a time for action. Really, it has never been more important for employers to operate an open-door policy to anyone feeling stressed, anxious or unhappy at work – not only on a day we are reminded, but throughout the entire year.
We’ve put together some top tips for maintaining positivity amongst employees.
1. Encourage break times
We all know the basic recipe for good mental health during the working day, but how often do we shut the laptop, step away from our screen or put the phone down on our break? If we are honest, the answer is ‘not enough’. Staying physically active throughout the day and taking shorter breaks more often will increase productivity and motivation, so encourage staff to take this active break from screens when they can.
2. Reinforcing availability of internal & external mental health services
Feeling alone when you feel low or in need of assistance can often exacerbate poor mental health and now, as many of us are still working from home, it can be harder to tell if a colleague’s mental health is suffering. Being that first point of contact or shaft of light in the darkness just by signposting to services available – both internally and externally* – can be hugely powerful.
3. Valuing the skills of your team
Being able to show your team just how much you value their skills, and allowing individuals to use their skills to make a difference can have a massive positive effect on mental health. Many of us use our skills without thinking on a day-to-day basis. Something that your team members don’t see as being particularly special can be incredibly valuable to a Good Cause or charity in need. Actively encouraging your team to use their skills for good ensures they see the value of what they do; that they feel the value of their skillset and that they make a difference to others. Not only that, but through this volunteering they add to your business’ overall ESG. It really is a win win for all and the positive impact it can have on mental health is invaluable.
4. Involve and listen to your team when making decisions
If you want to make your employees feel as though their voices are heard and their feelings are valued, include them in decision making. We may be a small team at Make Good Grow, but we do ensure that we reach out and ask each other for input and opinions. Creating a level playing field for your team will encourage them to provide suggestions regardless of their role and ensure that they feel like active members of the organisation.
5. Stop the spread of negativity
Creating a psychologically safe environment can start with the simplest of things, and ensuring you have an ethos of not tolerating idle gossip or negative talk around colleagues is a great place to start. It’s so important to immediately pull someone up when you hear something like this and nipping it in the bud there and then.
So our advice for today – Blue Monday – and the month of January is to let it be a useful reminder to assess the holistic support you offer to your colleagues and teams. Use it, also as a time to review the existing services in place and ensure that they align with your business’ current working model and where you want to take your business or what you want it to be known for too.
*A good place to start is Mind and their Mental Health at Work website: