Winter well-being at work – January Blues

January is traditionally seen as a time of great hope and optimism for the New Year; a moment to make plans and create lists of resolutions. However, the first few weeks of January are often perceived as a challenging time for the workforce from a mental well-being perspective and for those with a mental health issue. Blue Monday is the third Monday in January, and is said to be the most depressing day of the year. 

Dark mornings and short days, compounded by cold wet weather and, for some, the arrival of credit card bills demanding payment for the excesses of Christmas, can certainly make January a difficult month for some. Add to that the pressure some people feel in the month following the festive season to stick to hopeful New Year’s resolutions and undo the excesses of the festive season whilst battling virulent seasonal colds, and it’s easy to see why January can be quite gloomy.

One study, by consultancy Mercer, claims that sick leave is at its highest rate in January  more than a third of all sick days are taken in this month, according to its research. Additionally, Monday is the most common day for sickness.

Employers have a legal responsibility for the Health and Safety of their employees and need to be aware of their responsibilities under the law, but also understand the wider benefits to the business of having a healthy, happy and mentally fit workforce.

What do employees want?

The 2018 Global Talent Trends study by Mercer revealed a few employee desires that aren’t in the top three employer offers which are good pensions, free parking and flexible working. The study took a multi-perspective approach and collected information from 800 business executives and 1800 HR leaders, as well as 5000 employees across 21 industries. Among the findings, Mercer identified three factors that employees are looking for in a company. This included limiting out of hours communication, a commitment to health and well-being and working with a purpose.

Out of hours communication – Just about everyone is contactable all of the time these days and it’s often hard to ignore emails and messages when they come in, even if it can wait until Monday morning. Lidl has recently announced that their staff in Belgium would be banned from sending internal emails between 6pm and 7am to relieve their staff from the perceived responsibility to be contactable at all times. It may make you think, as an employer, about how sending emails out of hours might affect the recipient and put them under unnecessary pressure. If you don’t require an immediate response but just want to tick it off your ‘things to do’ list, consider setting up a time delay or create a draft to send early the next working day instead.

Health and well-being – Workplace wellness initiatives do more than just promote healthy habits. They show employees that their employers truly care about their health and well-being. 50% of employees would like to see a greater focus on well-being at their company. Havio is working towards having its own wellness programme and currently offers yoga sessions and lunch and learn sessions when it’s an employees birthday with cake and games.

Working with a purpose – Many employees feel that they are just working for a paycheck and aren’t contributing to the greater good of society. Without a sense of purpose, it’s difficult for employees to connect with their work and their company. Working with a sense of purpose boosts employee motivation, productivity, morale, and overall job satisfaction. In order for employers to provide purpose to employees, employers should create a company vision, show recognition, express gratitude, let employees know how their job impacts the company and clients, frequently discuss the meaning and value of the company, share customer success stories and ditch tunnel vision and focus on the bigger picture.


Health and Safety can seem like a complex area. We offer pragmatic advice and only what is necessary to you and your individual circumstances. Contact us today to start the conversation.

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