Why Blue Monday is bad for business

In the midst of cold, dark nights, the post-Christmas lull and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, employers are likely facing a less than upbeat workforce. Whilst many companies will be discussing and even running ‘Blue Monday’ promotions, to mark what is apparently the ‘most depressing day of the year’, Stacey Lowman, head of financial wellbeing at Claro Wellbeing, said, “employers must make a genuine effort to support staff with wellbeing, boost morale, and avoid tokenism."

Stacey continued: “Whilst the idea of Blue Monday is little more than a marketing myth made up to sell holidays, it does provide an opportunity to highlight the importance of mental health awareness, and support staff with their wellbeing. This could be physical, mental or financial. Low moods and mental health struggles are not confined to a single awareness day. Employers should be ensuring that staff are supported throughout the year, not just for one day or one month.

“Our research found that more than a third of businesses are ‘wellbeing-washing’, sharing social media posts, holding charity fundraising events and sponsored sports activities in recognition of mental health awareness without providing adequate support to improve employee wellbeing.

“Poor financial wellbeing is a catalyst for mental health problems, with more than two thirds (67%) of staff saying stress caused by money affects their work performance. This means that almost one in five (17%) take more sick days and more than half (59%) say they are less productive as a result. With many people facing a longer wait between December and January paydays, money worries could worsen, particularly following the expense of Christmas, rising energy bills during the colder months and the cost-of-living crisis pulling on purse strings.”

How can companies boost wellbeing?

Stacey continued: “As a result, employers should consider introducing some form of financial wellbeing support, such as access to one-to-one financial coaching, webinars or budgeting tools. Other ways to offer assistance may include access to a discounts hub, offering a one-off cost-of-living bonus and ensuring that the benefits package includes childcare and healthcare support.

“Beyond financial wellbeing, employers should also ensure that they have meaningful mental health support in place. This might include training team members to be mental health first aiders, fostering an open environment in which employees feel comfortable talking about mental health and providing access to support services, resources and an employee assistance programme (EAP).

“January is a time when a number of employees may also be looking to increase exercise levels, get fit or join a gym - which can also improve mental and overall wellbeing. Employers could consider offering a subsidised gym membership or hosting an in-office exercise class. People often have fewer social plans in January too, so it’s a good time to organise a company social to get the team back together.

“The new year is also a good time to check in with staff, understand their personal goals and communicate business goals and ambitions for the year ahead. In addition, make sure to remind employees of the benefits available to them to improve uptake and listen to suggestions for any additions that employees feel would be of help.

“Whilst businesses should ensure that they are supporting staff throughout the year, January is a good time to rethink benefits offerings, check in with employees and vow to take wellbeing seriously in 2023.”