Combat Blue January and stop National Sickie Day affecting your employees - Boffix

Combat Blue January and stop National Sickie Day affecting your employees

February 3, 2019  /  Amber Elliott

Blue January

Ever wondered why around a particular day in January your employees appear down, almost depressed. You may have noticed a recent low spell in the office. It’s by no coincidence this has happened. As your staff move towards the end of January, they become low and disengaged. They might have experienced the effects of Blue January, the most depressing day of the year. It falls on the third Monday of the month, and this year it fell on 21st January 2019.

So why does this happen? There are many reasons why, such as, the further away from the holiday period your employees become nostalgic leaving Christmas a distant memory. The good times begin to fade and the realities of how much they spent sinks in. They become troubled and anxious. For some the debt accumulated around this period could be substantial leaving them with a shortfall for the remainder of the month.

Also, around this time they start beating themselves up because they’ve probably broken most of their New Years Resolutions. This causes them to feel guilt and remorse. Plus, with little or no money they feel trapped unable to afford a holiday. Leaving them unable to fill the empty void with that something to look forward to feeling. And as the weather worsens their motivational levels drop further. The desire they had to take positive action at the beginning of the year gets replaced with negative thoughts of ‘is this it’.

National Sickie Day

You and your team might have made it through Blue January unscathed but unfortunately things are about to turn for the worse. With February now here and snow already on the ground, as the boss you begin to worry about what if staff can’t make it to work. However, the snow isn’t the only problem. On the first Monday of February, which this year is the 4th, National Sickie Day raises its ugly head. This is a recognised day when higher numbers of staff take a sickie.

With staff still reeling from the stress and run-down related symptoms of Blue January, it’s not surprising they are now feeling under the weather. Even though they’ve paid off the credit card bill they are more susceptible to colds, flues and viruses. And if they do come to work sick, they may just spread it around causing a greater problem. To add further insult, with more employees opting to send texts or emails to notify employers of sickness how is it possible to work out the real ones from the fake. You might think who would be silly enough to call in sick, on National Sickie Day, simple, those who don’t know.

As an Employer you are responsible for the wealth fare of your employees. And if you are conscientious you might wonder what you do to help your staff during these months and how to get over the hurdles with staff shortages.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Know Your Employees – we are all familiar with the term Know Your Client, but how well do you Know Your Employees? Getting to know them and spotting changes in their behavioural patterns could help identify problem areas. Have an open-door policy which allows your team to know you are willing to listen. Talk to them about how they are feeling and let them know you are there to help.
  2. Trust – for any relationship to work you need trust. Issue a bad weather and staff sickness policy in advance of winter. State that if they are sick, they need to phone in and speak to you or another senior member of the team before an agreed time. Make it clear that sending a text or email will not be recognised as a method of communication for employee sickness notification. Apart from this you need to trust that your staff will be honourable.
  3. Duvet days – assign your staff with allotted duvet days to be taken optionally throughout the year without encroaching on their holiday time. You may think that eight national days plus holidays is enough. But supplying a couple of extra days shows goodwill and could be a good way of combating extensive sickie days.
  4. Plan some fun – around the month of January and February aim to do something fun. During the summer months you may take staff to a BBQ, a picnic or to the local beer garden for lunch. This type of impromptu outing does wonders for moral. So, don’t let the bad weather spoil your fun. Organise a lunch out or provide a buffet in the office for everyone to share if the weather is bad.
  5. Prior Christmas – in the run up to Christmas think creatively. Organise for an outside company to come in or appoint someone in the office to run a craft day. Give staff the opportunity to create a hand made Christmas gift for a loved one. This could be anything from painting, pottery, to chocolate making. Simple things like paint your own mug or create a Christmas ornament. You could even hire a local photographer to take pictures and print the photo on a canvas for them to give as a present.
  6. After Christmas – set up a different payroll system during January and December. Or provide them with an early payments scheme. Set up sessions to teach staff the benefits of saving and budgeting throughout the year. This can go a long way towards helping staff, especially if this is their first job after leaving college or university.
  7. Lighter office – some of your employees may suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD), which means their moods, attitudes and behaviours could change during the darker months. Help them by providing extra lights on their desks and creating well lit areas for them to go and relax.

Investing in Staff

By investing and getting to know your employees you are safe guarding your business from seasonal health trends. With sick days, genuine or not, on the rise the more support you can offer to your employees the more they will respect you and your business. A sick staff member can create a ripple effect amongst the team. Help illuminate these threats with a touch of kindness, a word of thanks and a friendly ear. The cost to you personally is time but it may save your business money in the long run.

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