Banishing Blue Mondays

It may have its origins in a travel company initiative but Blue Monday now seems to be firmly established in the business calendar. In 2018 this allegedly most depressing of days falls on 15th January, coincidentally the day on which this article is being composed.

So what makes Blue Monday blue? Could it be the dark start to the day, the unrelenting stream of rain blattering against the window pane, or the credit card bills which hit the doormat around this time with a post-Christmas menace? Well they are contributing factors but so too, according to multiple sources, are the failure of New Year resolutions and a lack of motivation at work.

Now the trouble with saddling a single day with a negative outlook is that by inference every other day is sweetness and light. And we know that that isn’t necessarily so. Poor weather can fall on any day of the week; and whilst it is true that we’ll have to wait another month or so before the mornings perceptibly lighten, in terms of dark starts the third Monday in January is only marginally different to any other winter day.

Of course, there’s the other charge linked to Blue Monday and that is lack of motivation at work; another factor which isn’t specifically linked to one day in the year.  The latest statistics available may show that productivity increased in the third quarter of 2017 but with employee engagement levels persistently low there is some way to go before workers generally are motivated sufficiently to meet Blue Monday, or any other day with full enthusiasm.

That puts the onus on employers to take active steps to help people to engage more fully with their work. And what better place to start than with communications? If you are looking for people to understand and deliver the strategy, if high customer service levels are on your wish list, if innovation and collaboration are seen as the way forward; then effective communication sits at the heart of success. So why risk the future by clinging to the relics of the past? Yes effective communication requires listening and understanding skills but it also requires systems which help and encourage people to talk with each other.

Ask yourself this; if your customers want to get in touch, if your employees need to communicate quickly and effectively, if your suppliers would benefit from having a conversation; is your phone system up to scratch. Or to put it another way, is call answering, handling and transfer a joy to use or a bureaucratic nightmare? Having to route all calls, even internal ones, via the switchboard, being passed from pillar to post, regularly ending up leaving a message without any reassurance of a response may seem inconsequential in the grand scheme of things but it can make a measurable difference not only to the way in which customers approach your business but also to employee perceptions.

Even something as simple as that endlessly ringing phone can be a cause of stress if you need an answer but are left hanging in the dark, never knowing if the number you called was right or the person you need to speak to is in or out of the office. How can you realistically take the next step in providing a solution if a colleague is always out of reach?

So let’s take steps in 2018 to remove one cause of Blue Monday by streamlining communication systems. It doesn’t take much to help people to talk effectively but it could make a measurable difference to perceptions and outcomes.    

Written by Alison