In the new year, as we return to work and settle into our routines, it’s important to acknowledge that for some, the daily routine can be daunting. With the arrival of ‘Blue Monday’ on the third Monday of January, known as one of the most depressing days of the year, employers should be ready to address the challenges of supporting employees who may be struggling.

What are the January Blues?

The January Blues is a condition which manifests after the December holidays –making someone feel increasingly low in the first months of the year. While it’s rare to get diagnosed outright, the condition has been linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and depression.

It’s thought the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), affects around 2 million people in the UK and more than 12 million people across northern Europe. It can affect people of any age, including children.

It can present in different ways to different people however, there are some concurrent symptoms, such as:

  • Low mood
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed
  • Irritability

How can you spot if an employee is having difficulties?

In a time of performance reviews, new expectations and staff changes, anxiety levels can soar. Managers must know how to spot the signs of someone in distress, enabling them to offer help. Some people may be upfront about their troubles, whereas others will be private and wish not to share.

Gaining the ability to recognise indicators of distress will enable you to support your team effectively and minimise the impact on both them and the organisation.

Look out for the following signs and shifts in behaviour, as they could indicate that your employees are facing challenges and might require support:

  • Lower productivity
  • Poor timekeeping
  • Poor concentration
  • Increase in absence
  • Extroverts becoming introverted or vice versa
  • Increase in alcohol or other substances
  • Conflict where there was none before
  • Reduction in communication

What can you do to help?

Happy employees are more likely to avoid the negative effects of stress and anxiety but are also significantly more productive. A recent study by the University of Warwick’s Centre for Competitive Advantage found that ‘happy staff increased productivity by as much as 20%’.

Prioritising wellbeing in the workplace is an effective way to help overcome the back-to-work blues. Here are 4 simple steps that you can present to help your employees:

1. Open up communication

Sending a simple welcome-back email after the break can increase motivation and be a good way of lifting spirits. If you’re currently using an EAP, use this as an opportunity to relaunch this service. Try sending a communication/newsletter to your employees to remind them about the confidential support services available, as this is a good way to offer reassurance to anyone needing support.

2. Give praise where praise is due

During a time when moods are low, the easiest way to pick staff up is by telling them you appreciate the good job they’re doing. Acknowledging hard work is an instant mood booster and staff will be keen to keep the momentum going!

3. Lead by example

Keep your staff motivated by generating enthusiasm throughout January by having regular meetings and calls throughout the month to highlight the achievements of employees and to share any business updates or exciting news. Keep your own morale up and be infectious in your enthusiasm.

4. Encourage your employees to get outside

Ensure that your employees make the most of the very little sunlight we get to experience during January by encouraging them to go outside during their lunch breaks. It may not always be convenient due to the weather, but even a ten-minute walk and some fresh air can often make a huge difference to the mental wellbeing of your people.

How can PAM Wellbeing help?

Our comprehensive wellbeing services can help to reduce mental health issues in your organisation with the following support services:

Employee Assistance Programme (EAP): Access to a 24/7 confidential helpline answered by qualified counsellors for in-the-moment emotional support. As well as wellbeing resources to support a variety of personal and professional issues.

Enhanced Psychological Services: Access to professional counsellors through management referrals, providing employees with proactive support to effectively manage their mental health challenges.

Mental Health First Aid: By implementing Mental Health First Aid to support employees, we can help you reduce the prevalence of mental health issues. All our mental health first aid training is delivered by qualified professionals with experience in workplace mental health.

Mental Health Webinars: Increase awareness of mental health in the workplace by booking our workshops and training on specialist topics relating to mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

Speak to us today to explore how our services can effectively support your people.