Shaun Davis: How should employers support staff through the ‘January blues’?

Shaun 430

With ‘new year, new start’ ringing in our ears and the list of resolutions growing by the day – ‘I’m going to join the gym’, ‘I’m going to get fit for summer’, ‘I’m having a dry January’ or any number of the other things we commit to do – it is important we remember that life often has a way of throwing us a curveball so we need to be prepared for those ‘bumps in the road’. Things do not always work out as planned and, in my opinion, accepting this is a key component of resilience and positive mental health.

When we add to this dynamic the post-Christmas ‘hangover’, perhaps having spent too much, eaten too much, or seen the odd frayed temper, it is easy to see how, on the return to work, the physical and mental health and wellbeing of employees might need that little bit extra TLC to make sure the new year gets off to the positive start we all want.

Employers can play a supportive role in this regard by using the ‘new year, new start’ philosophy as a way of re-energising their health and wellbeing programme. In terms of January’s ‘Blue Monday’, reframing this to have positive conversations, as opposed to the negative ones associated with it, could be a good opportunity to promote an organisation’s approach to mental health and positive wellbeing, and to remind employees just how seriously their health and wellbeing is to the organisation.

Why not use it as an opportunity to re-launch a health and wellbeing strategy, to communicate the 2016 health and wellbeing objectives, or perhaps to promote the employee assistance programme? Organisations could hold a team-building day or remind employees of the role they can play in supporting each other; peer support in the form of mental-health first aid is proven to be highly effective.

Reframing an issue is often all that is needed to give it that positive position that is good for individuals and the organisation alike.

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Shaun Davis is group director of safety, health, wellbeing and sustainability at Royal Mail Group