So powerful it annually trends on Twitter as #BlueMonday, a study by the University of Exeter shows that the Blue Monday (the third Monday of January) could cost the UK economy £93 billion.
Research shows that on Blue Monday, someone Googles the term ‘depression’ every two seconds in the UK, making way for a swathe of unauthorised absences or sickies and a drop in workplace productivity, as festive feelings fade and the return to work hits home.
Peter Mooney says: “It’s important that employers fully understand the effects of stress. This includes on the individual and workplace productivity. One in six UK workers will experience a mental health condition or problem relating to stress. This equates to 70 million lost working days a year.
“In addition, Blue Monday is a time when unauthorised staff absences increase exponentially. This is caused by employees trying to get back into their normal routine after the busy Christmas break. Blue Monday, and indeed January as a whole, is a period during which many unauthorised absences, or sickies, occur. Employers should be aware of the pressures staff may be under and be proactive rather than reactive.
ELAS has complied three top tips for employers aiming to beat Blue Monday and keep January stress free:
Promote good health: Adopt a responsive approach to identify those with issue. Provide support to manage health problems effectively through early recognition and appropriate management. This could include early access to counselling or by providing advice on wellbeing
Offer flexible working options: Organisations that take the time to offer flexible working options are less likely to report ‘pulling a sickie’. This is a top five cause of absence and additionally, find that employees are less likely to attend work while unwell
Implement effective management of absences: Managing absences effectively will also help to stem the impact of absenteeism. For example, monitoring absences and conducting back-to-work interviews will enable managers to validate the reason for the absence and also establish whether the employee is well enough to return to work or whether they should be referred to an occupational health consultant.