The ‘January blues’ - an employers guide

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Health Assured team

18 December 2019

Recent reports have found that mental health illnesses cost the UK and Irish economy over £41.8bn (€49.7bn) combined, each year.


As we approach the New Year, it will be soon time for the decorations to be packed away, the tree will have to come down and the time to play Christmas music will have expired. The festive season will soon be a distant memory for your employees, leaving them with the task of getting themselves through the infamous ‘January blues’.


What are the January blues?

While the New Year is a time of optimism and new beginnings, many of us feel a significant drop in our mental wellbeing once the festivities and celebrations subside. This is known as the January blues.


As with many mental health problems, it can difficult to pinpoint the precise cause of the January blues, however it is generally believed that the cold weather, shorter days and the looming reality of returning back to work all play a role in the make-up of our emotional wellbeing in January.


This is why employers need to address the issue head-on, and be proactive in their efforts in tackling the January blues in the workplace.


Tackling the January blues

While it is true that employees should be fulfilling their duty of care towards their employees and prioritising their wellbeing throughout the year, special attention should be focused on the month of January. Here are a few tips...


Brew Monday - To combat the effects of the January blues and it’s counterpart, ‘Blue Monday’, mental health charity Samaritans are encouraging employers to host a ‘Brew Monday’, on any chosen Monday during January and February.


The aim of Brew Monday is to get employees talking about mental health and in turn, support each other through any emotional hardship they may be experience during the turn of the New Year.


If you want to take part, download the Brew Monday fundraising kit for your workplace, encourage your bidding bakers to bake some treats and pop the kettle on. By allowing your team to have a break from their work and have a chat with their colleagues, you’ll be contributing towards a more positive workplace environment during one of the hardest times of the year.


Recognise good work - Staff members can often feel demotivated – especially if they’re feeling overworked and their achievements are going unnoticed. It’s important that employers recognise a good job being done when they see it; even just a ‘thank you’ won’t go amiss.


If you’re aware that some of your staff are consistently doing a good job but you haven’t told them so, January and Blue Monday are both great occasions to do it as it’ll help them to feel more positive and motivated.


Encourage regular breaks - Make sure your employees feel comfortable taking breaks to keep moods lifted. During the dark winter months employees rarely see the sun, so it’s a great idea to encourage them to get outside and enjoy the little bit of sunshine that is available.


Overall, your wellbeing strategies should be tailored to your staff throughout the year. And while members of your workforce may seem especially resilient and bounce back in the New Year, it is imperative that you make your stance known and offer your support to everyone.


However, if you do notice anyone struggling on their return to work, ensure that you arrange some one-on-one time with them to see if there are any reasonable adjustments you can make to support their wellbeing. Otherwise, our confidential helpline is available 24/7, 365 to both employees and employers for support.



If you would like to find out more information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Health Assured on:

UK: 0844 892 2493

ROI: 01 886 0324

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