Blue Monday is the name given to this day in January (typically the third Monday of the month) claimed to be the most depressing day of the year. The concept was first publicized as part of a 2005 press release from holiday company Sky Travel, which claimed to have calculated the date using an equation.
The formula apparently uses many factors, including weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action. The reality is that these calculations fail even to make mathematical sense on their own terms, and a neuroscientist recently described the work as “farcical”, with “nonsensical measurements”. So, is there any truth to this Blue Monday scenario?
It is not unusual to witness people in the mornings heading for the entrance leading to their office block with a lack of spring in their step and with a slouched posture…….it is almost like anything else would be better for these folks than another day in the office. So it’s Monday, it’s winter, it’s cold but what could be so dire that lies ahead of them as they shuffle, forlorn and disheartened toward that entrance leading them to their torture?
Now, we would all like to be in a perpetual state of vacation or have secured that dream job we wanted when we were five years old, but the truth and harsh reality is that the majority of us need to work. In accumulating the means to have that vacation, buy new clothes or pay for college though, should it be the case that we have to drag ourselves in to a job and workplace daily where we can hardly summon the enthusiasm to tumble through the front door? If so, that is pretty frightening and not a little sobering. On this Blue Monday is the feeling of dread even worse?
Perhaps it is fanciful to think that we might witness people skipping toward their workplace with that look of wonder in anticipation of what great things their professional workday would bring. The zombie apocalypse just seems a little too close for comfort.
When you look out the window on the Blue Monday, what do you see as your workers come in to play? Are they happy? Do they look ready to come in and to be awesome? Do you get the sense that any customers that contact you today are going to be exposed to exceptional service? Do you think that the people you see walking in today will be walking in this time again next year?
I guess what we’re saying is that one of the key accountabilities of leadership is to ensure that the people that work with you are engaged, have challenging, meaningful work to do and operate in a nurturing environment even on Blue Monday. They need to feed off your passion, be treated equitably, be rewarded for doing great things and feel that they belong in an environment where they are trusted and where they can trust.
Such an environment takes hard work to create and even more hard work to sustain but this is the role that we signed up for as leaders. Clearly not everyone can be happy all of the time and we all have external issues and problems that can impact on our state of mind. However, the work environment should not be a factor in making someone unhappy – we should try our best to deliver an antidote and provide a workplace that drives creativity, innovation, quality and a sense of pride.
If your employees look like they are having a Blue Monday take a close look at your work environment and consider what you might be able to do to put the joy back in coming to work…….