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New year? No fear! How employers can keep workers happy ahead of Blue Monday

January can be a struggle for many of the UK’s workers, as life returns to normal after the revelries of the festive season. The combination of heading back to work, gloomy winter weather, and the financial consequences of over-indulging during the Christmas break can leave us all feeling low.

This year, the ‘most depressing day of the year’ - January’s infamous ‘Blue Monday’ - is set to fall on 21st January. For employers, this can mean a demotivated and disengaged workforce - at a time when being ready and raring to go is crucial for starting the year off well.

With workplace morale set to dip this month, Erik Fjellborg, CEO & Founder of Quinyx, the market leader in workforce management, shares some advice to help bosses banish those blues - and retain a happy, motivated and productive workforce.

Spread some New Year cheer

“Who said that work perks should be reserved exclusively for Christmas? At a time when everyone is feeling low, it’s more important than ever to reward your staff.

“Whether it’s something as simple as getting in a round of coffees or some sweet treats, small touches can go a long way to cheering up downbeat staff. For companies where logistics allow, why not go one step further and offer a late start or early finish to ease workers back into their routine. Taking measures like this will help boost morale and motivate your staff members. After all, it’s the little things in life that count - and that applies to working life too.”

Be flexible

“Flexibility is key. Our recent study ‘Work that Keeps the UK Working’ found that 73% of the UK’s workers still face issues when it comes to flexibility in their current work schedules.

“With flexibility around when, where and how we work becoming ever more important to the country’s workforce - Blue Monday presents the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that flexibility is at the heart of your business. Whether that’s letting someone work from home, or swap their shifts around to allow for other commitments, flexibility should be for everyone - and that applies whether you run a boardroom, a bar or a shop floor.

"Unfortunately, flexibility still has connotations of spiralling costs and scheduling nightmares. But with the right tools in place, flexible working can be easier than people think. Giving staff some leeway will prove hugely beneficial in the long term.”

Show you care

“With morale low, some staff may even begin to look for opportunities elsewhere. It’s not surprising that January also sees ‘Massive Monday’ - the day of the year when record numbers of jobseekers apply for new positions.

“Staff retention is a major problem for employers. It may sound simple, but one of the easiest ways to hold on to your workforce is just to show you care. Go that extra mile and get to know your staff members individually. Especially in larger businesses, it's common for employees to feel neglected by management, with a study by the ADP Research Institute finding that nearly two thirds (62 per cent) of UK workers believe they are undervalued at work.

“By taking the time to understand staff on a more personal level, bosses will demonstrate that employee happiness is a high priority. It will also help to work out the staff members who may not feel so settled, so steps can be taken to address the problem."

Quinyx’s Erik Fjellborg concluded: “January is a notoriously difficult month for employees and can cause all manner of headaches for bosses. By using simple workforce management methods, employers can help their staff overcome those back to work blues and increase productivity as a side effect.

“The key thing to remember is that a happy workforce is essential to any successful business, so this Blue Monday I urge all of the UK’s employers to put employee happiness to the top of the agenda.”