SHP Online is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.
I am a journalist with 13 years of experience on trade publications covering construction, local government, property, pubs, and transport.
January 2, 2019
Get the SHP newsletter
Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources
Download the Safety & Health Expo 2019 show preview
January Blues: SHP’s guide to helping workers beat the winter slump
The first few weeks of January are often perceived as a challenging time for the workforce from a mental wellbeing perspective. Here, SHP revisits its guide to helping beat the mid-winter blues.
It is the new year and while some will rejoice and create a list of resolutions, it can also be a difficult period for those with a mental health issue, and those whose wellbeing in the workplace is challenged.
The day which is the major focus in January is the so-called ‘Blue Monday’ – the third Monday in January. Although there is no scientific evidence this is a worse day of the year for mental health, it has become a standard by which to look at the broader picture of mid-winter wellbeing.
Despite a lack of firm scientific evidence, there is some empirical research that suggests January is a particularly difficult time for workers.
Also, the government’s official data provider, the Office for National Statistics, reveals that in excess of 130 million days are lost to sickness each year – and recently stress has become the biggest workplace sickness issue.
The issues for workers are three-fold, according to the man behind the Blue Monday concept, Dr Cliff Arnall, who created it during his time at Cardiff University: debt levels, weather and the associated seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and a failure to keep to new year’s resolutions or lifestyle issues.
What do employees want?
According to one study, employees want health insurance, working from home, a company car – but none of these are in the top three employer offers, which are pensions, free parking, and flexible working.
Offering these incentives would clearly have a positive impact on the workforce and wellbeing across all employees.
Additionally, it may be worth considering what other issues may assist a worker. For example, creating goal-setting and career related incentives as well as awards and prizes for achievements can have a positive impact on the health of workers.
Also, assess the workplace and the physical demands of the role – make sure that workers are regularly consulted.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Office managers can do much to impact the negative effects of SAD when workers return from the Christmas break as well.
The workforce is one of a business’ most important assets and, generally, happy and comfortable employees make for a successful company. Travelling to work and leaving in the dark can often have a negative effect on workers’ wellbeing. According to the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association, around 21 per cent of people will notice a change in mood and attitude over winter with a further 8 per cent of people needing treatment.
Get Your Free Ticket to Jonny Wilkinson's Talk at Safety & Health Expo 2019
Arguably one of the best-known rugby players in the world, Jonny Wilkinson CBE famously kicked the drop goal that won England the 2003 World Cup with just seconds left in the final. Much of Jonny’s success on the field, however, took its psychological toll. Jonny has dealt with depression, anxiety and panic attacks. In his honest, unguarded speech, entitled ‘Success on the field and mental health: a personal account of understanding what matters’, Jonny will recount how his focus and dedication to the sport he loves meant overlooking important parts of his life.