Supposedly the most depressing day of the year. It’s January, pay day seems so far away, and the Festive Buzz has gone. Most people have returned to work and with the dull weather and long month, some employees may be feeling the January Blues. But this doesn’t have to be the case.
This year why not use Blue Monday as an opportunity to open up a workplace conversation about Mental Health and Wellbeing? If you are a larger employer you may wish to host a breakout area with refreshments for colleagues to have a chat with one and other during breaktimes (the Samaritans are running a campaign called Brew Monday which we certainly can get behind). If you have an Employee Assistance Programme which offers free counselling and support, you should also ensure that employees know how to access these services. For smaller teams, again why not get together over coffee, or if working remotely, a Teams call. You can then check in and see how employees are feeling, as well as opening up a dialogue about Mental Health and the support that can be offered.
Whilst Blue Monday is only one day of the year, employers should consider what other things that they can do to support employees in the long term, especially during these difficult times of high inflation and costs of living. Giving employees a supportive workplace often leads to a happier workforce, which in turn, boosts productivity and reduces employee churn (i.e. staff overturn).
Whilst the topic is fresh in your mind, it would also be good to start addressing some of the workplace policies and procedures that you have in place ensuring that these are all up to date. Mental Health is an incredibly important topic to be aware of, not just in everyday life but also in the workforce. Mental Health conditions such as Anxiety and Depression may amount to a disability within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010, meaning that employers will have additional legal duties should their employees fall within this definition. Therefore, it is vital that employers have in place policies and support for employees who may need it, to ensure that they do not fall foul of any discrimination law. In addition to this, employers should look at whether any of their employees may need reasonable adjustments, such as additional breaks or even adjusted hours.
You should also be vigilant for those employees who may not feel able to speak up about how they are feeling. Mental illness is often invisible to others, so watch out for employees who may be less active in workplace matters. Ensure that you keep in touch with employees frequently, 1-2-1’s are usually a good way of doing this. You should ensure that you give the employee the opportunity to share how they are feeling and anything that you can do to support them.
If you have any questions about the issues raised in this blog, or if you would like us to draft or update your workplace policies on Mental Health and Wellbeing, please get in touch.
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