John Attley: How should employers support staff through the ‘January blues’?


January can be a challenging month for some. Too much food, too much wine, too much expense, or a festive period without nearest and dearest, can all take their toll on colleagues’ physical and mental health.

Hygiene from an organisational perspective can help to give everyone renewed direction and focus; taking a moment to reflect on all the challenges and successes of last year, and looking forward to the big issues of 2016.

On a local level, the first team meetings of 2016 at National House Building Council (NHBC) will include discussions about our latest engagement survey results and what activity teams and individuals can get stuck into. This will help to enable colleagues to improve their own social circumstances in the workplace, which will happen alongside implementing and communicating what we are doing across the board to further improve the workplace.

Tactically, then, it can be a good time for the introduction of new benefits, or making certain benefits available where there are time-limited windows, using the ‘New Year’s resolution’ hook to help drive initial take-up. NHBC offers part-funded smoking cessation clinics and is introducing weight loss and alcohol dependency to sit alongside that in its suite of wellbeing benefits in the new year.

In addition, our quarterly lunch and learn in January, which will be broadcast to our significant home and field-based population, will provide some light relief. We will spend 45 minutes with an expert speaker on the use of humour in everyday life, pulling in themes of positive psychology and emotional intelligence.

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The one thing I feel all employers can do to support staff during the January blues is to be sensitive to the fact that, while some may have over-indulged in late December, for other colleagues the festive period may not have been so full of joy, therefore additional support may be required and the promotion of schemes focused on physical health.

John Attley is engagement manager at the National House Building Council (NHBC)