Blue Monday – looking back to help your business move forward
Today is ‘Blue Monday’, the day claimed by some to be the most depressing of the year. An idea first published as part of an advertising campaign, the science behind it is often ridiculed as nonsense – yet it represents a crushing reality for many.
Following the highs of the festive season, many people find themselves struggling mentally at this time of year. With the fairy lights packed away and the turkey finished, we find ourselves left with dreary weather, empty wallets, and the imminent failure of many unrealistic New Year resolutions. Although January can also be a productive time to consider personal goals for the year ahead, this day reminds us to consider the way that we look after our mental wellbeing, and the happiness of those around us. Throughout 2018 we published a number of articles, highlighted below, to help you support mental health in the workplace.
Workplace culture – the key to improving employee wellbeing?
For employers, creating a positive workplace culture where employees feel that their wellbeing is prioritised carries a wealth of benefits. Research shows that companies with happier employees outperform the market1, with a more productive workforce, and employees who feel appreciated. Many of the benefits are well known – employees who enjoy their work want to do better at it, and those who feel like their skills are recognised and invested in are more likely to stay in a company that helps them grow.
Another well understood benefit of investing in employee mental health is avoiding absence. In the UK, an estimated 57% of days lost from work are caused by work-related stress, depression, or anxiety2. The statistics here can be worrying, but there are a variety of ways to combat this, not least by increasing your understanding of mental health issues, and being able to discuss your employees’ mental wellbeing in a safe and supportive environment. This also helps to combat a less obvious, yet just as important risk, presenteeism. Described as one of the biggest threats to productivity for UK businesses, presenteeism is when employees come in to work despite being unwell – whether that be mentally or physically – and it can have a devastating impact both on the quality of work you see, and the morale of your employees3.
A practical approach to supporting employee wellness
The importance of creating a happy and healthy workplace is undeniable, but how do we go about this? Firstly, it is vital to consider how you support the mental health of your employees, and how you can begin the conversation of wellness in the workplace. The critical action needed to normalise mental health issues is to treat it like any other aspect of health, and not to single it out. This requires a joined-up approach to mental and physical wellbeing, and a review of ways you can improve other areas of employee wellbeing.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health. Some of your employees may need more consideration than others – for example new mothers, working carers, and staff overseas. It is also easy to forget about your own happiness when concentrating on that of others. When did you last take a step back to check in with your own mental health? Creating a supportive workplace environment with staff who feel that their needs are prioritised starts with you, and the examples that you set.