SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder
Blue Monday occurs after the festive season and is said to be the most depressing day of the year. After the Christmas break is over, and the tinsel gets put away, we realise our bank balance has a lot more negatives than positives from all the parties we’ve been to. As January begins, it becomes evident that our waistline has gained a bit more than we would like too!
The 3rd Monday of January is the exact day where we start to notice our mental health is at its lowest. This is a form of Seasonal Affective Disorder, but, there is a way to deal with the January Blues; and for employers these are ways you could get your employees back to high spirits. Rather than letting your employees being in a persistent low mood and having little interest in what they’re doing, you can make an impact and improve their current lifestyle as a conscientious employer.
Of course, there’s an upside to this from a business point of view: happier employees work longer and harder, and how could you want anything other than happy employees within your workplace?
1) Create a positive working space
We spend nearly a quarter of our lifetime at work so it’s important to create a space that’s functional, comfortable, welcoming and visually appealing. Updating and changing towards a more positive workplace can improve teamwork as well as raise morale and increase productivity and efficiency.
You can improve the workspace you already have by installing new kitchen appliances, creating a comfortable seating area (a ‘chill space’ as they’re increasingly known), or by providing a selection of healthy snacks to everyone. Even a fresh coat of paint to the office walls can help brighten up the room and may even be a way to enhance your branding. Wall decorations don’t need to be expensive either, you could use some simple vinyl stickers to set an enjoyable tone and atmosphere for your employees to work in.
You can encourage and even arrange work-based social events, like trips bowling or just to the pub. A chance for the team to down tools, step away from the phone and emails, and just enjoy each other’s company in a relaxed atmosphere.
Another increasingly popular idea is to create a flexible working time where everyone in the team meets up once a week, say on a Friday afternoon, for about 30 minutes just to discuss the week that’s behind them and any plans for the following week.
2) Don’t let Christmas overspending get your staff down
After Christmas, we tend to look at our finances a lot more than before – which is understandable after the presents and food we have bought for family and friends! However, with money worries often cited as one of the key factors behind mental health factors, how can a conscientious employer make sure their staff aren’t suffering unduly?
Having a financial workplace workshop can offer practical bite-size solutions to all your staff, without the need to single out anyone or group of people. You can use it to look at ways your staff could save money as well as making money. There are professionals who offer workshops, and they can often help individuals with any debt that may have amassed as part of the package. Worrying about money can be emotionally exhausting, and it’s a recognised truth that reality sets in shortly after the festive season, so why not make sure your staff have a helping hand. After all – happy staff means a happy workplace, so you’re really helping yourself too.
3) Conduct an employee survey
The New Year is a great opportunity to use the fresh start to get constructive feedback as to your company’s and employees’ development. This helps with understanding their expectations, and what they feel like they’re lacking, and how you can work to improve that. You can even give them a forum to tell you what changes they would like to see in 2020 and find out who wants to further their careers by means of additional training / qualifications.
Being able to give a platform to provide feedback freely is important as an employer; your employees must know that their words and views matter and surveys are a great way to do it. Approach the exercise with an open mind and be prepared to learn from your employees – after all, they’re the ones working on the ‘ground floor’ of your company and, often, have the most sensible suggestions about potential ways forwards.
4) Set SMART objectives for the year ahead
Smart objectives stand for; Specific, Measurable, Attainable and Achievable, Realistic and Resourced, Time-bound objectives. What this all means is focusing on what is important and what needs to be done.
Identify what are the key things to consider – such as better profit margins whilst still improving the quality of product or service. Each aim that you have, you can all agree on and from this you can tailor it to each individual employee so that everyone is engaged and part of the new process.
You can target anything from increased sales to improving product or service quality.
Keeping objectives specific ensures that everyone will be able to understand the objective and embrace the process. Having the targets measurable makes it easier to check on progress – and don’t forget to design a tempting and worthwhile rewards system for when those targets are achieved!
5) Start off the year feeling good
If some of your employees are worried about their health and their wellbeing, then this would be the perfect time for a health check. Health checks are performed to detect any potential health problems or disease, regardless if there aren’t any current signs or symptoms. The purpose is for early detection and doing so shows employees that you care about them and about their wellbeing.
Offering health assessment services to your employees shows that you are invested in their health and wellbeing, all positive signs of a caring and conscientious employer. Staff retention and recruitment become easier as word of your good conduct and reliability as a good employer spreads, and that’s the sort of positive publicity that money can’t buy.