Christmas can be a challenging time for some.  Juggling work with festive planning is all well and good while the adrenalin is flowing, but once the decorations are starting to lose their sparkle and the tree is wilting, January can feel anything but shiny. Even those who had a fantastic Christmas can feel a dip as the excitement wears off and they look for the next project. 

This can all have a negative knock-on effect in the workplace, so we have put together a 7 step plan to getting 2019 off to the right start and beating the January blues.

Step 1

Festive fatigue. For those suffering from long-term illness, financial problems, mental health issues, relationship breakdown, domestic abuse or bereavement, Christmas can be one of the most miserable times of the year. Sometimes the workplace is a welcome escape, while other times it is the final straw.

Try to be aware and mindful of the challenges that some employees may face over the Christmas period, and adapt your approach accordingly. This is a great opportunity to launch or discuss your organisation’s wellbeing policies. Let employees know what support is available and promote an open-door policy so that any worries and concerns can be dealt with quickly.

Step 2

Lighten up. Lack of natural light is a serious issue for 6% of the population and 14% suffer from ‘winter blues’. One study even found that a lack of natural light increased cortisol levels and reduced night-time melatonin levels, both of which are linked to depression and poor sleep. Even those who don’t suffer specific symptoms can benefit from a little more sunlight.  

During the winter months many people find themselves commuting to and from work in the dark and spending the daylight hours in an office. Encourage employees to get out while it’s light during the day, perhaps a lunch break walk? Keep office blinds raised and improve light levels with mirrors and light-coloured walls. If these options are not practical, then it may be worth considering investing in some special Light Therapy lamps.

Step 3

Get active. Few people make lasting resolutions. However, it is the most common time for people to take up a new diet and exercise regime or quit smoking. Organisations can help support their employees efforts to improve their health in many ways. Try out the lunch time mile which encourages people to get out and walk during their lunch break. Or run a quit smoking campaign and help boost employee willpower to stay on target.

Capitalise on the desire to make positive changes and implement healthy initiatives. Kick start an office league or encourage healthy lunch habits, perhaps even get people to swap their favourite recipes. People are more likely to stick at their resolutions, exercise routines and healthy diets if they’re doing it with others.

Step 4

New chapter. January is the most popular month for handing in job resignations with almost 1 in 5 people citing it as the month to change employer in a study by Glassdoor. Perhaps it links to the top reason for changing jobs, which was salary.  Not so surprising when one third of adults worry they won’t have enough money to last through Christmas. Is it any wonder that this is the time of year people start to consider their options? It’s not just money people are worried about, 22% of respondents in the Glassdoor study said that they quit because they wanted a new challenge. Filling vacancies is costly and time consuming, so forestall this by ensuring you properly value your employees and that they know it. This may also be a good time to ensure that you have a clear progression strategies in place and engage your team in practical and achievable development planning.

Step 5

Positive Workplaces. If life is getting you down, the last thing you want to do is walk into a miserable workplace. Creating positive working environments is not just about having a nice office space, it’s also about encouraging a constructive, stress-free atmosphere and bringing together a strong, supportive team. It might sound idealistic, but no matter the workplace, it’s always possible to foster a good team spirit.

Encourage supportive team working, rather than aggressive competition – although a bit of friendly rivalry can work wonders for motivation. Ensure roles are clearly defined and the team well-structured to avoid any overstepping or under-reaching. Acknowledge achievements and reward them. Be sure to celebrate the wins. What better way to brighten up a dull January day than a pizza lunch or latte afternoon to recognise successes? 

Step 6

Remember wellbeing. Mental health issues can be challenged by Christmas and January blues. Having a well-rounded wellbeing policy in place can be key to ensuring that any concerns are managed before they turn into problems. Promote self-care and encourage employees to be mindful of their own needs and to feel able to flag them up where relevant. Make mental health part of your wellbeing strategy. Consider offering confidential counselling in the first month or two of the year.

Step 7

Don’t forget yourself! It is easy to get caught up with ensuring everyone else is coping and forget about ourselves. Self-care is for everyone. Take a breath and remember that January is only 31 days.