21st January, Blue Monday, is considered to be the most depressing day of the year.
Employees reportedly feel sluggish after the Christmas period and pressured with their new goals and work demands. Whilst the Christmas break should provide some respite from the workplace, new research reveals that employees are finding it increasingly difficult to disconnect from the demands of work*.
The Christmas break may not have been a time for all employees to switch off. Over half (53 per cent) of UK employees have had a holiday interrupted by work, whilst two-thirds (66 per cent) of Brits say work communications are eating into their evenings and weekends (61per cent).
The situation only increases with seniority. Eight in ten directors (80 per cent) say they have had their holiday interrupted, whilst 86 per cent have had their weekend interrupted. A further 92 per cent have had their evening disrupted by work and a staggering 97 per cent have had their lunch breaks interrupted. Indicating that directors can rarely get away from work demands and that lunchbreaks really are a thing of the past.
Workers in the capital are more likely to be interrupted ‘all the time’ by work than any other region, with a fifth (21 per cent) always interrupted whilst on holiday.
But how can we beat it?
UK workers use mobile technology for almost a third (31per cent) of their working day, according to TeleWare’s research. Having work related apps and emails on their personal device may enable flexible working, but it also exacerbates the ‘always on’ culture that technology has helped to create.
Steve Haworth, CEO at TeleWare, comments,
Technology has significantly contributed to the explosion of information at our fingertips. We have more information and are more connected than ever before. However, Blue Monday serves as a reminder of the pitfalls of technology. For employees still regaining motivation following their Christmas break, having constant interruptions from work during their downtime is not helpful. Whilst technology is crucial for employees to be their most effective at work, it can also be a detractor when there is no escape.”
Ironically, it’s technology that will solve the same predicament that it’s created. Recent years have seen a number of apps and software introduced to help employees work flexibly, whilst also allowing them to switch off and divert their work communications to colleagues on demand. Employees can that way divert business calls outside of work hours to ensure they aren’t distracted during their free time.
Rufus Grig, CTO at Maintel comments,
With the holidays now a distant memory and we wake up with the thought of commuting to work in the cold and dark, it comes as no surprise that this Monday is often considered ‘Blue Monday’ – the bleakest, most miserable day of the year. It’s no wonder so many of us can’t face the idea of going into work.
However, rather than allowing employees to call in sick, businesses ought to plan ahead and implement measures to help enhance their employee’s efficiency on a day they are said to be lacking motivation and positivity. One way they can do this is by understanding their employee’s working preferences – and ensuring they are equipped with the right tools to do so.
Thankfully, employers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact that health and happiness has on the day-to-day running of the business: if workers are not engaged and productive at work, it can cost the employer money, impacting its bottom line. Consequently, employers are starting to recognise that flexible working can help to facilitate a better work life balance.
In fact, according to research by Maintel, flexible working is becoming more widespread and steadily being implemented more successfully, as 73 per cent believe their company have a good flexible working policy. As a result, 64 per cent say they don’t feel micromanaged when working remotely.
Organisations must therefore allow flexibility to enable employees to work where they feel most productive each day and make sure they don’t feel too blue this Monday.
Doing away with toxic work routines
Dean Forbes, CEO at CoreHR comments,
The festive season high has faded into the distance, and the reality of work has taken hold once more. Pressured by upcoming yearly reviews, and an always-on business culture many employees may feel deflated by January blues. While some organisations might have put initiatives in place to keep their people motivated and energised, many still find it hard to identify and accommodate the needs of their workforce.
To ensure the workforce remain engaged and motivated even on the gloomiest of days, it is crucial that companies do more to keep morale high in the run-up to, and beyond, Blue Monday. It’s also important to consider whether other factors might be worsening the work environment. Our own research revealed 4-in-10 workers worry about the impact work has on their mental well-being. Toxic, high-pressure working practices can be extremely damaging on top of January blues, which is why workplace culture and HR strategies must support employees to break bad habits.
A new year is a new chance to do away with inefficient and ineffective routines that can lead to stress and distraction. To meet employee expectations of an engaging, collaborative and positive employee experience, businesses will need to take a fresh look at their current HR strategies and find ways to capitalise on any gaps.
Learning and Development
Chris Gray, Brand Leader, Manpower UK, comments,
The working environment must be a place where employees can feel confident, empowered and motivated to reach their potential. To avoid ‘Blue Monday blues’ employers must take stock and remind staff why their work and input is so valuable to the business.
To keep staff engaged in their work, employers should put more resource into career development and training to make their workforce feel valued. One way to do this is to get individuals involved with projects that require different skill-sets to enhance their personal development. Offering them the chance to move around different departments will also enable them to work with a variety of teams, which increasingly, employees are looking for in their role. It’s also important to make them feel part of the success of the organisation and allow them to contribute ideas
* research carried out by TeleWare