Post Christmas crises: How to help employees beat the January blues

Did you know?

  • Early January is divorce lawyers take the most enquiries from warring couples.
  • The third Monday in January has been dubbed ‘Blue Monday’ and is said to be the most depressing day of the year.

So when you get back to work, the chances are that at least some of your team will be suffering from the January blues or a post Christmas crisis that will impact on their well being, as well as their productivity in the workplace. What you need to do, as a leader, is to distinguish the people that are just a bit miffed they can longer have a lie in or are disappointed that they’ve already eaten cake for breakfast despite a New Year’s resolution to be healthy, from those who are having a genuinely difficult time.

How can you tell the difference?
Some people may be upfront about their troubles, of course, some of your employees will be intensely private people who do not wish to share. Learning to spot the signs that things are not all well may help you help an employee and decrease the scale of the impact on the individual and the business.

If your employee is suffering from a significant issue, you’ll find one or more of the following signs:
• Changes in normal behaviours such as extroverts becoming introverted or vice versa.
• Poor time keeping
• Increase in absence
• Increase in alcohol or other substances
• Poor concentration
• Conflict happening where there was none before.
• Lower productivity
• Reduction in communication
• Loss of motivation

If your team member is just spending more time chatting, taking more breaks and surfing the internet, then the chances are, it’s just a bit of apathy experienced by most of us after an enjoyable break.

What can you do?
From a practical point of view, you can’t let your business suffer because your team members have issues. Equally, if an individual is suffering from significant stress, it’s vital to offer them the support that they need. From a humane point of view, it’s important to nurture individuals and from a business point of view, you’ll find that tackling the issue as soon as possible will not only resolve it quicker and will lessen the impact on the wider team and its outputs, but it will also ensure much greater loyalty from the individual, in the longer term, to you and the business.

There are some simple and effective interventions you can put in place that will work either for an individual or for a whole company.
• Hold staff awareness training to raise awareness of stress
• Get experts in to brief your staff on nutrition that promotes healthy a healthy balance lifestyle
• Bring in a Acupressure Massage Specialist to provide in house instant 15 minute stress relieving massages
• Arrange drop in days – don’t just say “my door is always open” publicise it, make a big thing of it.
• Arrange one to one chats with all your direct reports to catch up with how they are. Pay attention to their life outside work as well as inside.
• Invite Calm People in (other providers are available) to deliver empowering workshops that help everyone recognise and deal with stress in a healthy way.
• Take professional help from an HR adviser on how you can best support and employee suffering with stress
• Listen with empathy – can you genuinely see the worlds from their point of view with the problems they are facing?

All the above are good for awareness and support. They are also public demonstrations of you caring for your employees and being prepared to take action to support them. This has an important side effect of boosting morale and in my opinion that is better for stress reduction and improved productivity than most other interventions.

Remember, don’t just care, show that you care.

Do be wary of appearing to care and not following through. That can have worse consequences for employee relations. The organisations Calm People work with genuinely care, genuinely take action and as a result have great relationships with their teams.

So, don’t stress over stress. Take action, show you care and see the results.


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