Let’s ditch Blue Monday
Even though it’s true that this time of year can feel flat at best, or a struggle at worst, we think January can be more than just a time to complain about the darker days and dream of your next holiday!
Supposedly, it’s the most depressing day of the year. But Blue Monday (the third Monday in January), was ‘calculated’ as a PR exercise by a travel company back in 2005. We say, let’s make January a time for positive goal-setting and mental health, instead. It’s a perfect time for employers to have these conversations with their teams. For some employees, you could be providing a light to see beyond the gloom, others you could be adding a guiding hand to help them harness a renewed passion for the future.
Show you care
The start of the year’s a good time to check in on how employees are feeling and how connected they are to your organisation’s purpose and values. This year, that’s especially important as remote or hybrid-working is set to continue and can dampen team spirit. If managers find individuals seem disengaged, it could be that financial concerns about the year ahead are weighing on their minds. Our recent research showed 41% of people don’t believe their employers support financial wellbeing.
So, how can you help employees feel supported and more confident about the future? And help them contribute their best to your organisation’s success? One tool in your kit is your communication around benefits – and making sure you’re getting it right. It’s not only important to remind your current employees how much you care, but you might also have an influx of new joiners in the new year, so it’s important to get off on the right foot when it comes to conversations and communication around benefits. We think it’s important to:
- Communicate regularly with bite size information
- Personalise the messaging where possible – according to employee segments like their age, life stage and so on
- Make sure your policies on things like parental leave and pensions, which can be complicated, are easy to find and explained clearly.
Promoting benefits based on their value at different stages in life, rather than just describing products, helps you reach the people who need your support the most. You probably run regular retirement seminars already, but how about targeting people looking to get on the property ladder, or managing family finances? Offering financial coaching can help people with their individual goals – and those things they’d want to keep private, like trying to get out of debt or coping with divorce, for example. Making sure your people feel you’re on their side at difficult times.
Capitalise on enthusiasm
Happily, for many, that Blue Monday feeling doesn’t exist. They adopt a ‘new year, new me’ attitude. Lots of your colleagues will have come back from the break with renewed energy and a desire for self-improvement – in the mood to set goals. And getting to grips with finances will be a popular new year’s resolution.
Our coaches find that the new year is an ideal time to help people reflect on their money experiences from the previous year – identifying what was challenging and working out how to handle it in the future. It’s not about guilt though, it’s about identifying priorities and building up new financial habits for the year ahead. It’s also a time of year when people often take stock, think about their long-term plans and sometimes make life-changing decisions – changing careers, moving house, ending relationships. Financial coaching is a resource people value when looking ahead.
One of those life-changing decisions is often moving jobs. Add to that the ongoing ‘great resignation’ prompted by Covid, and there’s a double incentive to focus on retaining your people at the start of this year.
As HR teams are well aware, it’s so important to connect with employees on a human level and understand what they really need and want. Everyone’s heard stories of people leaving jobs because they wanted something their current company could have offered them, but never connected the dots. It could be a chance to stretch their creative muscles, a greater sense of responsibility, mentorship, or a look at a new career path, for example. It could be they’re looking for help to feel confident about their future finances. We know money is the number one cause of stress and poor mental health among employees and these issues make them twice as likely to look for a new job.
Leaving employee ‘blues’ in the past
There’s always truth behind a cliché. This January, some of your colleagues will be fired up and ready to get their lives in order. Others will be finding it tougher to get through each day. Either way, HR leaders have an opportunity to reach out and give them the support they need.