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Workplace cures for Blue Monday

A new employee is being inducted. / 123RF
A new employee is being inducted. / 123RF

The hangover from the festive period can continue long into January - culminating in the dreaded Blue Monday, the so-called most depressing day of the year.

Although there may not be hard science behind the idea of Blue Monday, there's no denying that January can be a gloomy time - for both employees and employers.

In 2018, Blue Monday for most falls on January 15 (tomorrow), and it can be challenging to motivate and enthuse employees around this time of year, making way for a swathe of unauthorised absences as festive feelings fade and the return to work hits home.

Paul Burrin, vice-president of Sage, says it's important that business owners and managers fully understand the effects that lack of motivation and enthusiasm can have on both the individual and consequently the productivity of a business.

He suggests trying having a one-to-one with employees to make sure everything is fine.

There are a few approaches managers can adopt to maintain motivation levels and ensure that staff stay focused and productive.

1. Show gratitude

An appreciated colleague is a happy colleague. Showing a little gratitude can go a long way towards a motivated, higher performing workforce. Everyone likes to feel appreciated, and a bit of recognition can lead to better self-esteem and workplace relationships, boosting productivity. Not only that, unhappy employees can lead to unhappy customers.

Recent research by Sage revealed that over 66% of those surveyed see being valued as the most important aspect of their employment. Positive work experiences also have a huge impact on productivity.

2. Get volunteering

The phrase "conscientious capitalism" is becoming increasingly popular, emphasising the need for businesses to focus on the purpose beyond profit. Many organisations across the world are committed to taking action to make a tangible difference to both local and global communities, and bringing employees along on this journey could be a good way to keep them engaged.

Setting up an employee volunteering programme and giving employees paid time-off to volunteer for important causes is likely to pay back in spades. It can enhance your employees' skills, encourage team-building and create a positive culture within your business, which can be recognised internally and externally.

3. Promote flexible working

Giving employees an element of control over their time could be highly beneficial for both the business and the employee. Research conducted by Cass Business School and Cranfield School of Management suggested a positive association between both informal and formal flexible working arrangements and job satisfaction and organisational commitment. This is supported by Sage's research, which found that 81% of those surveyed stated that flexible and remote working is very important and highly valued.

4. Try gamification

Making work fun and introducing healthy competition leads to better results. This is the theory behind gamification, the buzz word for the process of introducing game elements into various activities to help motivate, engage and keep employees and customers. Gamification typically includes badges, leader-boards, points and progression, and can be used for employee engagement in operations.

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