Happy new year! Are we still saying that?!
We hope that this blog finds you well and that you’ve kept up any new year’s resolutions you made so far (I’m doing dry January, and so far so good!).. now the kids are (finally!) back at school, we’re all hopefully back full swing into work mode…
And it’s no different for us, we’re back with our weekly blog and whilst the topic may be slightly blue, we hope that it offers some helpful advice to kick the trend and keep your workforce (and you!) upbeat in January.
My Christmas was lovely but very busy and coming back to work feels like a break to be honest! To beat the January blues ourselves, me and my husband have already been searching out our holidays for this year so that we can have some sun to look forward to whilst we endure this freezing weather, Sunday morning football for the kids is no joke in January!
What started as a PR stunt is now a big focus for wellbeing for the early weeks of the year, Blue Monday, which falls on the 15 January this year, refers to allegedly the most depressing day of the year. Christmas is over, credit card bills are due and the early pay day for some in December means many people are short now at the end of the month after an expensive festive period.
It is also the time when people’s well intended new year’s resolutions are starting to fail, and the tasks which were put off in December are now becoming urgent and people’s managers may start to be getting on their backs about them. Everyone is now “circling back” on those tasks we may have put off at the end of last year!
Obviously, mental health is always important, but this (albeit gimmicky) date may be an opportunity to open up the conversation for you and your employees to ensure that their mental health is prioritised and supported by the business, and that employees are aware of the support that is there. Supporting employees helps to minimise absenteeism, promote employee engagement and retention, and, ultimately avoid potential tribunal claims for disability discrimination. It should therefore be a priority for any employer.
Many employers now have mental health support lines, so this can be communicated to employees to remind them that they have the resource available to them should they need it, this can also include financial help and advice in some instances.
If you don’t have employee assistance programmes there are other practical and cost-efficient steps you can take to boost support for your staff.
For example, you could look at introducing mental health first aiders in the workplace, which helps to demonstrate your commitment to employees’ mental health, and gives employees a point of call when they are experiencing poor mental health, or mental health issues. Mental Health First Aiders are just your existing staff who are trained in how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and provide help on a first aid basis. It’s essentially the same as physical first aid but for mental health issues.
Beyond that you should generally make sure that team leaders and line managers are checking in with their reports (and each other) regularly to create a culture of openness and to ensure that they are able to identify any issues before they become a more serious issue. This can sometimes mean deploying some training for managers to support them with this part of their role – we can help you with that!
Considering hybrid and flexible working arrangements can also help with alleviating stress for employees by allowing a better work life balance, saving them money with commuting and childcare costs and also the time that commutating takes up can be utilised by employees for positive activities for mental health such as exercise classes or more time with family and friends. This isn’t always possible, as we well know, but its something that we at Precept feel passionately about – letting your staff work in ways which are smart to them (ah-hem – don’t talk about the work from home vs office/hybrid crews at Precept…we keep it light, but it can create a real issue to keep an eye on!)
Here at Precept, we are able to help with managing absences in the event that they do happen. We can talk you through how to deal with employees presenting with mental ill health, from holding informal conversations with them, all the way through to formal absence management processes. We also offer training for line managers and we are also able to signpost you to the best way in which to practically deal with mental health issues in the workplace.
Let 2024 be the year that you really get to grips with your staff and let us help you do it!