18 January 2021

Blue Monday: the facts and the fiction

How to tackle the very real effects of the pandemic on employees' wellbeing

Okay, so it turns out Blue Monday was actually coined as a PR hook by a travel company, and has been debunked. But anxiety and depression are certainly very real, with 53% of employees saying they feel more emotionally exhausted since the outbreak of the pandemic.

We know that happy employees are more productive. So, here are some ideas for the five essential pillars of a great workplace wellbeing programme.

 

1 Physical wellbeing

The link between physical health and mental health is well known. Encourage your people to get active. And don’t be put off by Covid restrictions: according to one report by Nuffield Health, during the first UK lockdown, people exercised more than ever.

Give permission: As the CEO of Hootsuite said: “What employees really crave is the social license to exercise on the job.” Create a culture where you can turn up to a Zoom call still sweaty from your morning workout.

Make it a team thing: Give team meetings a boost by using them to set health goals for the whole group – Pilates, anyone?

Inject some fun: Could your yoga-fanatic team member share a move of the day? Or your office foodie give a cookery demo?

 

2 Mental wellbeing 

In the UK, 1 in 6 adults have experienced a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression. And now, 69% say they’re worried about the effect Covid is having on their life. But mental health isn’t just important for the individual – it has a huge impact on your overall company culture as well.  

Get people talking: Encourage an open environment where mental health can be discussed with zero judgement.

Upskill managers: The Mental Health Continuum is a simple and effective tool – use it to help your managers identify people in the team who are struggling.

Create a support network: You probably already have a First Aider in your office, but do you have a Mental Health First Aider?

 

3 Financial wellbeing

Financial worries are a major source of stress and can drastically impact an employee’s ability to focus. Even before the pandemic, the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute found that 2.3 million people in the UK were experiencing mental health problems that affected the amount of paid work they did.

Tool up: Share money planners, pension information and budgeting advice. You can find plenty of free help and tools online.

Focus on the positive: Nudge your people to engage with their finances by getting them to think about the life they’d like to lead, rather than their issues.

Empower your experts: It’s not often that finance teams get the spotlight. Bring your campaign to life by including your company’s very own finance experts in your comms.

 

4 Social wellbeing

Social wellbeing is about connecting with others, but Covid restrictions make this a big challenge. According to a recent study, even just 10 days spent in self-isolation can negatively impact people’s wellbeing.

Create opportunities: Offer online work events and activities that build relationships and encourage knowledge sharing and teamwork.

Book a check-in: Everybody’s busy. But a friendly phone call to simply check in with each colleague can really help.

Make it fun: Pub quizzes, film clubs, online discos… help colleagues make each other smile by upping the fun.

 

5 Digital wellbeing

According to one study, the average adult spends 4,866 hours a year looking at a screen. Want to give your teams a break?

Use the 20-20-20 rule: Staring at screens can give you eye strain. Combat this by encouraging people to look away from the screen every 20 minutes at something that’s 20ft away for at least 20 seconds.

Pick up the phone: Zoom fatigue is real. If you’re only using video calls, try simply using the phone instead.

Go outside: Smart phones and laptops mean people don’t need to be trapped at their desks. Take the online meeting outside for a change of scene (even if it’s just the front door step!).

 

Looking for some ideas, inspiration or insights to support your wellbeing strategy? We’re here to help.

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