There's no excuse for 'Blue Monday'

There are things businesses can - and should – be doing to ensure people are happy at work, says occupational psychologist.

Date: 19 January 2015

Image: Emanuele 

Today is the third Monday in January – a day the media often dub ‘Blue Monday.’

Of course, just because the media tells us that the excesses of Christmas, reminders about mounting credit card bills and the gloomy weather all conspire to make us miserable, doesn’t mean we actually are.

But January does often see a spike in job applications, suggesting people aren’t happy in their workplaces. Indeed, ‘get a new job’ was the fourth most popular New Year’s Resolution in a survey last year.*

Here, London Met Occupational Psychologist Sarah Johnson shares some simple things employers and employees can do to banish the workplace blues.

Get the work-life balance right

“Creating a more balanced workload and improving our work-life balance is critical for a more engaged and committed worker. Tackling long working hours and learning to switch off and put work behind us is important. Technology has made it even harder to switch off. I've even heard of one case of an employee on her wedding day still tapping away on her smartphone on work emails! 

We need to learn to strike a better balance between work and home life. Focusing on family commitments, taking time out for social and leisure activities and spending time with significant others has a restorative effect on energy and wellbeing and, ultimately, productivity.  

A problem shared is a problem halved

Sharing concerns with others and building empathy often results in the problem that is shared being a problem halved. Building healthy relationships with others in the workplace often serves as a buffer against stress. 

But there is a lot more organisations themselves can do. 

Organisations could really take more steps to monitor and avoid worker overload, make more use of flexitime arrangements and discourage a 24-7 working culture, from senior leadership right down to the shop floor. Feeling fresh and energised at work is a key goal.  
Open door policy

With recent Health and Safety Executive initiatives, managers are learning to be more hands-on in monitoring stress and disenchantment and rewarding others for good practice, innovation and competitiveness. They are learning to keep their doors open and promote negotiation in better working practices.  

For example, at one car assembly plant, workers are encouraged to brainstorm the notion of ‘good ideas’ – ie where working practices and productivity can be improved but in ways that don’t lead to such stresses. These ideas are shared in weekly meetings with management who can actually put in place the changes.  

Up-skilling

The importance of training in new skills and encouraging personal development with coaching are also so important in building worker self-esteem and engagement.

On a positive note, we are starting to build upon good examples of worker health initiatives that are being increasingly published and more available to others. The challenge now is to maintain and increase this growing momentum.”

Are you interested in the world of Occupational Psychology? London Met runs a wide range of courses. Find out more at the School of Psychology website


*www.myvouchers consumer website, Jan 2014.