The end of January is thought to be one of the gloomiest times of the year: a combination of the wintry weather and the financial hangover from the higher level of spending over the festive season means many people find themselves feeling low. 

As a result, the start of the third week of the month has been dubbed ‘Blue Monday’, and while it’s not directly related to work, employers may find that staff well-being is affected.

Although we can all relate to the concept of the January blues, well-being should be something employers focus on all year round. The global pandemic has given rise to a mental health crisis, and recent statistics from the Health and Safety Executive show a clear increase in work-related stress, anxiety and depression, leading to heightened levels of absence and accidents at work.

How to start a conversation about well-being

So how should forward-thinking businesses react when employees are facing a number of external pressures, often outside their control, in the current ever-changing environment? 

Often, when talking about well-being, we tend to focus on mental health; but well-being is broader than this. A good well-being proposition should be holistic, incorporating mental, physical, social and financial health. 

All of these have been affected by new ways of working. Think about what measures you have in place already and consider the following as part of your strategy.

The impact of new ways of working

Consider the circumstances in which your staff are operating and how this could affect them. While advances in technology and the ability to work from home have created greater flexibility, extended periods of homeworking can negatively impact an individual’s well-being. 

A good well-being proposition should be holistic, incorporating mental, physical, social and financial health. All of these have been affected by new ways of working.

A recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) revealed that the challenges of homeworking and the impact this has had on work-life balance are among the most common causes of work-related stress.  Blurred lines between family and work life, along with reduced physical activity and social interaction, can take their toll. Keeping in regular contact with remote teams is therefore critical.

Include financial well-being in your proposition

Financial well-being is a topic that often tends to be neglected by employers. Given the economic impacts of the pandemic and Brexit, this is an area employers need to be aware of. Examples of steps you could take are:

  • Review your current reward and benefit offerings to make sure they’re still fit for purpose and meet employee needs.

  • Promote any company benefits available to further support employees and raise awareness of the support available for them.

  • Explore and promote free sources of information and guidance to support employees with skills like budgeting, for example. 

  • Consider investing in initiatives such as debt counselling, provision of interest-free loans and access to financial advisers.

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