At Ecosulis we believe that keeping our employees engaged, motivated and mentally well is critically important. Small, positive changes can mean a lot and benefit many - both in January and throughout the year.
Every year many of us struggle with January. It's cold, it's dark and it's wet, and for those of us who got paid before Christmas, it's also the longest month of the year! Add a global pandemic into the mix and Lockdown 3.0, and we have a recipe for a gloomy start.
As one of those running through treacle this January in 2021, my best guess is that many of our employees could also be feeling the weight of a watered-down Christmas. Missing the love and support of loved ones separated by lockdown, compounded by short dark days and the reported continual rise in Covid-19, we're on track for trying times ahead.
Being fully aware of "Black Friday" and doing a bit of light research, I came across "Blue Monday". I had heard of "Blue Monday" in the past, and assumed that there was some science behind it.
I was wrong.
Blue Monday is in fact a marketing idea thought up by a long since defunct travel company who purported to have used an equation to boost sales. This equation reportedly considered various factors such as temperature, time since last pay, days until the next bank holiday, average hours of daylight and the number of nights in the month, time since failing New Years' resolutions - the list goes on! So it sounds like the whole purpose was to sell more holidays – now a wholly pointless exercise since the myth is debunked.
January is dire enough this year (sorry January) - notwithstanding the "Blue Monday" myth - so here at Ecosulis we decided to try and make some small differences to make everyone's trudge through it a little easier.
We really value our highly-engaged employees and always listen to their feedback. We capture this each week through OfficeVibe, an anonymous feedback platform based on the Gallup 12 Questions. This time, we decided not to wait for the feedback to come trickling in now that we had everyone back to full steam after the Christmas break. Immediate action was needed!
On my own "Gloomy Wednesday", I wrote a Wellness Action Plan to roll out to everyone who felt they needed to use it. Taking action on this, we have decided to have a company close down for one day on 5 February, 2021 – coincidentally the first Friday after payday – which won't be taken from staff leave allocation and will be for staff to do with as they see fit.
It could be staying in bed watching Netflix, walking for your permitted exercise in your local area, flexing your lockdown cliché and baking banana bread, or just opening the wine a little earlier (although I'm not advocating daytime drinking!). The point is, with limited input from our extended families, friends and loved ones, we all need a little bit of extra help right now.
And because we want to keep our employees engaged, motivated and mentally well, small, positive changes can mean a lot and benefit many.
Two takeaways from writing the plan were these questions:
"Are there any early warning signs that we might notice when you are starting to experience poor mental health?"
"If we notice early warning signs that you are experiencing poor mental health – what should we do?"
As a manager, parent, or carer, many people will identify with this….. we do what would make us feel better, but that may actually not be helping someone who is fundamentally different from you.
One answer to the second question could be:
"Don't ask me directly, but please let my friend / parent know. This is their number….."
"Please give me a call and talk to me about how Spurs or Chelsea are doing this season...."
"Set up a daily check in call with me."
This was a bit of a revelation to me. If we can get our team to fill this out, this should go a long way to addressing their mental health in a way that they will find helpful - not just putting a tick in a box to say we have followed a procedure.