Why year-round support is key for employers

The start of a new year brings with it a multitude of different feelings. Some may feel revitalised to return to work, kicking off new projects and goal setting for the months ahead. Others may feel less motivated, with the colder winter months doing little to help boost moods.

Feeling disengaged with the workplace at some point throughout the year is normal. But while January can be difficult, with our research finding one in five (22%) of employees will feel disengaged in the workplace this month, it is a mistake for employers and managers to focus on just one month each year. And even more so, put any emphasis on a just one day! Blue Monday was suggested nearly 25-years ago – but we’re unsure if it still rings true. Indeed, while January is cited as the time of year when employees feel most disengaged with work, it’s not the only month. December was a contender for more than one in ten (12%) employees. Just 11% said they never feel disconnected with work.

So, employees need to support staff throughout the year, and it’s vital that employers have robust health and wellbeing policies and benefits in place year-round.

In doing this important work, employers will have a clearer understanding of how their staff are feeling and what support is needed to help keep them engaged and happy. Indeed, almost one in five (18%) employees said feeling disengaged at work makes them unhappy. One in seven (15%) say it makes them feel stressed, while almost the same number (13%) confirm it affects their mental health. Worryingly, one in ten (11%) say it makes them feel depressed, and almost the same number (10%) feel anxious.

With these reasons, and the fact we know that cases of staff stress, anxiety, and depression spike in the winter months, having effective and varied communication deployed regularly to staff is the best way to help maintain engagement, productivity, and overall happiness at work.

To help with this, employees should feel encouraged to take regular annual leave and spread it out across the year. Whilst it can often feel challenging taking time off through fear of an increasing workload upon return, making it difficult to switch off, it’s important to take some time for yourself – even if it’s just a day or two.

Also having regular catch ups with managers and colleagues is key as it provides the opportunity to discuss any mental health concerns, and highlights areas where you might need practical or emotional support. Our research found that one in five (20%) employees say they’d like mental health support, whilst 10% would value wellbeing classes, and 8% counselling. In a lot of cases employers could be offering this already without staff being fully aware of what’s available. That’s why it's so important for employees to understand what they could be benefitting from at work and know they can approach HR or their manager if extra guidance is needed.

At MetLife UK, we’re committed to providing the best quality employee benefits to employers and their employees in order to ensure businesses can prepare for the future, perform at their best and protect their staff. Businesses perform better when employees are engaged, are well and feel valued -so from this Blue Monday onwards, it’s critical this message is regularly communicated and embraced.