HR & Management

The Blue Monday breakdown: How are your employees really coping?

5 min read

15 January 2018

Former deputy editor

With Blue Monday upon us, it’s time to look at the statistics to review employee wellbeing. Do you really know how they feel?

Monday 15th January 2018 is also known as Blue Monday – the most depressing day of the year.

 As a rule, the third Monday of January is bestowed the Blue Monday title, with the Christmas high fading into the distance as the reality of work and bills takes hold once more.

Mental health has become increasingly prominent over the past year, with people openly speaking about emotional wellbeing, which prompted us to create the Mind Control series of interviews, acting as an outlet for leaders to share insights.

And with the arrival of Blue Monday, several companies have analysed employee wellbeing to see how UK staff feel generally and at this time of the year, as well as whether managers are doing a good enough job.

With darker, shorter and colder days, Peldon Rose revealed that 40 per cent of workers believe winter has a negative impact on their mental wellbeing. Additionally, a third declared that they Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) has impacted them.

The office design firm’s findings showed that half feel as though winter puts them in a bad mood and 55 per cent said they often feel like pulling a sickie during the season.

This lack of enthusiasm is also down to management, as 56 per cent said they feel unappreciated by the business. The office environment was also found to leave staff down in the dumps, with a cold building deemed as a negative by 54 per cent.

Peldon Rose found things such as good heating (96 per cent), natural lighting (94 per cent), a breakout space (92 per cent) and an open mental health discussion (87 per cent) as the most valuable components to support employee wellbeing.

“Although identifying Blue Monday as the most depressing day of the year may be as much art as science, our survey reveals that Blue Monday does hold a grain of truth, that both mental and physical health is affected by our work environment,” said Jitesh Patel, chief executive at Peldon Rose.

“Blue Monday gives us an opportunity to talk about health and wellbeing and the steps we can take to protect it in the workplace.”

Elsewhere, CV-Library used Blue Monday to offer survey results that found 35.2 per cent of UK workers suffer from mental health problems, and 42.9 per cent of those claim their job is making them feel that way.

Some 70.6 per cent are said to suffer from post-Christmas lows as Blue Monday arrives and 17.9 per cent said this impacts their job.

The top causes of this was put down to:

(1) Doubting their abilities – 34.6 per cent

(2) Having a boring job – 26.6 per cent

(3) Not getting on with their boss – 22.6 per cent

(4) Working alone – 17.8 per cent

(5) Working with customers/clients – 17 per cent

Some 47.4 per cent admitted that depression and anxiety leaves them dreading going to work.

Lee Biggins, founder and MD of CV-Library, said: “While mental health is something we are beginning to talk more about across the UK, it’s clear that there’s still more that needs to be done to help those affected – especially in the workplace.

“It’s sad to learn that one in three UK professionals are suffering from depression and/or anxiety, and that this is having such a negative impact on their ability to do their job.”

Despite this, 37.7 per cent of respondents said their company does nothing to help those suffering from mental health problems.

With that in mind, The Health Insurance Group called for employers to wake up this Blue Monday, as management may not have the tools needed to handle mental health.

Brett Hill, MD, The Health Insurance Group, suggested: “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.