Today is Blue Monday, which is said to be the most depressing day of the year. It’s a time when our moods drop as we move on from Christmas and New Year’s and get on with the year ahead.
However, this year is different. Alongside the end of Christmas celebrations, we are in a third national lockdown, a new variant of COVID-19 is spreading, there’s political unrest across the pond, and delays at the border. All of the this is likely to exacerbate pre-existing problems with mental health in the UK.
Two-thirds of Brits admitted to feeling lonely during the first lockdown in March and the Centre for Mental Health has predicted that up to 10 million people in England, almost a fifth of the population will need mental health support as a direct consequence of the pandemic.
In short, unfortunately there is plenty to be blue about this year. With this in mind, employees will be looking to employers to support and engage them during Blue Monday and beyond.
The importance of recognising and responding to individual needs
Employers shouldn’t assume that a one-size-fits-all policy works when it comes to supporting and engaging remote-working employees. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen people respond differently to the stress and disruption it has caused, and the continual need to work from home. Some may be content with working from home, while others may not feel comfortable working alongside the people they live with.
Businesses should recognise these differences and tailor the support they offer to suit individual needs. This could be as simple as creating a virtual hub for people to work alongside other team members to help boost team spirit, create more team catch-ups, or offer additional wellness and health programs.
Why you should consider a long-term employee reward and recognition program
Engaging and motivating employees does not stop once Blue Monday has passed. Particularly in these unsettling times, it can be easy for employees to lose focus or for their moods to slip. To counter this, businesses should consider a long-term employee reward and recognition program to keep workers engaged and motivated.
Setting up a reward scheme is a great way to boost satisfaction and productivity amongst employees, yet, despite this, our recent whitepaper, which surveyed 2,000 employees across the UK, found 22% said they’d never received a reward from their employer.
Why businesses should incorporate experiences into a reward scheme
Businesses should look to incorporate experiences into their reward and recognition program, including virtual experiences which can be enjoyed even despite the current social restrictions.
This is a trend we’ve seen a lot of employers explore, and it’s likely to be welcomed by employees. Our whitepaper found that 75% employees believe gift cards and vouchers make them feel valued or very valued. This was followed by own-choice rewards (71%) and team treats (64%).
It’s easy to see why employees are interested in receiving gift cards and virtual experiences, over cash bonuses. Virtual at-home experiences, such as virtual gin tasting or online escape rooms, creates fun memories amongst a workforce, which in turn, improves team morale.
Blue Monday and the days that follow will be a trying period for all of us. At this time, it is essential that employers continue to engage and motivate their employees and show that they value the hard work they have put in during this unprecedented time.
Reward and recognition programs which involve virtual experiences are a great way to do this - not only will they improve team morale, but they will also create memories and give your team something to do during these long, cold winter nights.