January represents a fresh start and, while Blue Monday may be traditionally known as the most depressing day in the year, employers have an opportunity to change this by prioritising the communication of staff benefits in the workplace.
Many employees will feel refreshed after the festive break, and with clear goals to achieve both personally and professionally it’s a great foundation for employers to build on. Simply creating a 2023 calendar to include frequent reminders on the support tools they have available to them and key awareness milestones throughout the year can go a long way in driving awareness and usage amongst employees.
Recent government figures estimate that in 2021/2022, 17 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression, or anxiety, with women aged 25-54 suffering with the highest levels of stress. MetLife’s research found that financial worries can play a large part in this, with more than two thirds of consumers (64%) saying their financial situation had made them feel stressed, anxious, or depressed. The research also found that almost a third (30%) have no one to turn to for advice if they had money worries. With the current economic climate continuing to be a changing picture, businesses have a real opportunity to step up to support employees with their physical, emotional and financial wellbeing.
Adrian Matthews, Head of Employee Benefits MetLife UK says: “Blue Monday coupled with an outlook of economic uncertainty serves as a timely reminder for employers to help support the emotional and financial wellbeing of their workforces.
“It’s important to create a secure environment, encourage open conversations and have policies in place which ensure that employees know where and how to access support before issues become unmanageable – where feasible. Helping to address issues as early as possible can help mitigate more difficult circumstances further down the line in some instances. Employee benefit programmes can provide a wealth of support tools which can provide invaluable 24/7 access to helplines for example and provide a highly valued lifeline outside of working hours.
“This Monday does not have to be a blue on but instead a time for employers to bring their workforce together, boost morale and begin important conversations about wellbeing and the support available.”
Top tips to boost morale on Blue Monday and beyond:
· Face to face touchpoints – For employers, the beginning of a new year is a great time to initiate closer bonds with your employees. Face to face events are increasingly important in a hybrid working environment and provide valuable touch points for both employees and employers. Open huddles, breakfast or lunch drop in events or social / volunteering events are all great ways to encourage a greater connection.
· Understand the support available – Your group benefits package will provide a host of services to support employees (and their families) at their time of need, however big or small. From a virtual GP service helping to ensure an employee can see a GP, to dealing with the loss of a loved one – there are services to help. Contact your Group Risk provider to ensure you are maximising all the help that is available. Providers often enhance or add new services to their offering, so the new year is a good time to check in with them.
· Communicate benefits clearly – Once you are clear on all the support available to your employees, create a simple calendar of activity for the year ahead to drip feed the information through. Leveraging digital signage used to be great when most were in the office all week. With the growth of hybrid working, ensure you have a mix of communication channels to disseminate your messages. Also, consider that in most instances, employees will need to access information outside of working hours, so an app or hard copies can be helpful as a point of reference
· Create regular employee events – Companies spend much of December planning work Christmas parties, secret Santa events or Christmas jumper day’s however these festivities and events naturally pause during January. Creating a fun, non-work-related event for January can help to bring excitement back into the office. This could be an office quiz, a fun training day or to celebrate an awareness day or week like National Author Week on the 28th of January.