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How to motivate staff on Blue Monday

Published: Thursday 14th January 2016

Male presenting from a board to a team of colleagues

According to many, not least the media, next Monday, the third Monday in January is meant to be the most depressing day of the year. Dubbed by many as ‘Blue Monday’, it’s the week before most people get paid, normally after getting paid early in December and are really struggling through the long month of January, especially as the bills begin to come in.

As an employer, many managers may see their employee’s productivity and positivity decrease around this time of year, a trend that, way back in 2012, the University of Exeter calculated that, one day this could cost a business as much as £93 billion in lost productivity!

So we ask, as the boss, how can you keep your staff motivated on Blue Monday – Monday 18th January?

Have fun

Encourage laughter in the office to help keep your employees positive. Maybe come up with a team game you can play at lunch and ask your workers to contribute ideas. You can even do something as simple as a dress down day or a cake sale and name it the ‘Great Office Bake Off’. Encouraging a little light-hearted competition will help to keep everyone more alert and awake in the office.

Exercise classes and yoga

Let your workers wind down by offering exercise and yoga classes before work or at lunch time, something as simple as promoting going for a walk outside for 20 minutes can be a good way to lift your employees’ mood and refresh their brains. You could even bring a massage therapist in to offer a free head and neck massage to help your staff wind down at the end of the day.

Offer incentives

Creating targets for this one day can be a good way to increase productivity in the office. Set a league table and whoever reaches a certain number of sales in the day can leave early or even allow your workers to finish for the day, once they have completed all urgent work.

Make sure staff take their breaks

This may seem simple but how many people eat lunch at their desk? Studies have shown that employees who eat lunch at their desk have greater fatigue and are less productive; therefore it should be a no-brainer to encourage your workers to actually leave the office on their lunch break and get some fresh air.

By 3pm if your staff are starting to yawn and the workrate drops why not schedule a 15-minute coffee break for everyone in the office or get everyone outside to walk a couple of laps of the car park.


This could be the best thing you can do for your employees. Encourage an open door policy and let your employees know that you are there and they won’t be judged, if they need to talk. Regularly getting confidential feedback on what your employees think, how engaged they are, and what they would like, can show that you care. But most importantly there needs to be some acknowledgment or action as a result. For example, if they want better coffee but you are unsure how to finance it, ask for suggestions. It might be funded by a swear jar for a bit of fun, taken out of the stationery budget, or they could even take ‘rounds’ to buy it.

Offer support and advice

There may be more to it as to the reasons why your staff feel down in the dumps on this day. As it’s the week before payday for most, your employees may be worrying about finances, especially after the Christmas period, as credit card bills start to come in but the money doesn’t. Consider bringing in financial experts to help educate your staff on money-saving tips or how to better manage their day-to-day finances, or, if they need more specialist advice, help refer them to external advisors. Setting up guidance and counselling sessions can also be a good way to support your staff, by giving them a voice and someone to talk to and help make their burdens easier to bear.

Life admin

Allow your employees to have half a day to do some ‘life admin’. Setting the rule that all employees must stay in the office but can use the internet and phones to give them the chance to organise any personal chores, like switching energy suppliers or bank accounts, they would not be able to do otherwise. A lot of insurance and finance providers are only open 9-5 so by doing this you can allow your workers to organise the important things without having to sneak out of the office and stress over them.

These ideas may not work for everyone and Blue Monday is just one day, so whatever you decide to do as an employer, remember that you’ll always get the best out of your staff if you invest time in them, listen to their feedback and help support them to do the best job that they can.

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