January blues is the name given to the general sense of melancholy which hits people as they enter the first month of the year. The gaiety and fun of silly season has given over to belt-tightening as finances take a hit, whilst, conversely, we attempt to belt tighten by losing those extra pounds gained over Christmas. Days are short, dull and drizzly, without the sparkle of Christmas lights to cheer us up.
The extra pressure of setting (and failing to achieve) unrealistic new year’s resolutions adds to the sense of glumness that pervades the month. January is the time for a new starts and it gives us the opportunity to look at things in a new way and set some objectives or goals for the year ahead. But, they need to achievable. Remind yourself to make achievable goals instead of working to transform every single area.
As an employer, making a few small changes can have an impact on your team. Start by creating a Wellbeing strategy. It’s simply a way to bring together all the aspects of health, and put in place a few initiatives to improve the health of your workforce. There’s so much you can do in this area, without adding in a lot of cost: send out a health and wellbeing monthly newsletter, improve the menu in the work canteen by adding healthy food, adding healthcare to the company’s benefits package, wellness days or providing training for managers on spotting the signs of any mental health related issues.
Here are some things you can do to help improve the health of your workforce:
Make January social
We all know January is the least social month (especially with pay day so far away), but organising a team lunch or a work social is a good way to inject some fun into your place of work.
You could also try a few of these ideas to bring the team together:
- Baking competition
- Employee of the month
- Thank you chocolates on your team’s desks
- Set up a book club focusing on ‘self-help’ or motivational books
It might not sound like much, but these little acts of kindness can lift the mood and atmosphere at work.
Spot signs of depression and anxiety
Give your management the tools to help identify any signs of depression, anxiety and any other mental health issues. January may be miserable but there could be an underlying problem that you could give support to. Having access to counsellors and doctors with an expertise in mental health is important and could provide a life-changing benefit to your employees.
January can also trigger break-ups and the first Monday of January is now known as ‘Divorce Monday’. Check up on your colleagues if they seem stressed, deflated, angry or any other unusual display of emotions. Let your workforce know that they can speak in confidence to the HR team and so that you can offer the ‘right’ support through counsellors, doctors or Occupational Health.
Offer financial help
Christmas can be a tough time for money and debt. Think about organising workshops for financial health and debt management. The simple things like switching utility providers, bringing in a packed lunch and buying supermarket own brands are all ways to help managing money.
Do some research on charities or companies that you could team up with to offer your employees a financial health check. Make all the details available on the business intranet or simply send out a company email with some tips on how to improve financial health.
Lunchtime team walks
Getting outside and being as close to nature as possible (we know it’s difficult if you work in the city) has proven results of reducing stress. It’s the perfect way to get away the desk, getting fresh air and there’s no pricy gym membership involved.
Access to healthcare
Offer health information and advice and encourage your team to see a doctor – in doing so can help avoid some serious health issues.
Organise free flu-jabs for your employees, not only is this beneficial for your team but also keeps absence due to sickness low.
Switch up the food options at work
If you have a canteen at work, take a look the food options and see if you can make any improvements. Stock some healthy options like protein bars in vending machines or you could provide free fruit so your team always have a healthy and easy go-to option.
Making some small changes doesn’t need to cost a lot of money – focus on getting your workforce engaged with health and wellbeing and provide access to the resources for a happy and healthy year ahead.
Written by: Vicki Field, HR Director