How data could help eradicate Blue Monday forever
Every year, the third Monday of January is designated ‘Blue Monday’, as this date has been determined to be the most depressing day of the year.
It makes sense that almost everyone’s mood drops following the festive season, when our weather is grey and stark. But Blue Monday isn’t just about post-Christmas melancholy - it’s part of a larger conversation around how we experience mental wellbeing and the challenges that people face everyday.
While the calculations behind Blue Monday remain dubious, the day itself still warrants attention because it, importantly, raises awareness of the fact that many people do struggle with depression, anxiety, stress and burn-out at work.
Even though Blue Monday brings awareness to these issues, the conversation around these topics is much wider than a single day of the year, particularly when it comes to the workplace. Recent research shows that 35.1% of employees report having felt unwell as a consequence of work-related stress. As most of us spend the majority of our weekly hours at work, it reasons that wellbeing, both mental and physical, should be a consideration within the workplace itself.
Especially given that stress and poor mental health costs UK businesses between £33billion and £42billion per year due to reduced productivity. Focusing on one day won’t fix this systemic issue, it’s only by taking action throughout the year that employers can begin to make a dent in these figures.
However, there’s no doubt that it’s complicated. There are a multitude of factors affecting people’s wellbeing, all of which vary dramatically across different types of businesses, offices and teams. With so much to consider, it’s no wonder that many businesses -- especially larger companies -- struggle to know where to begin.
This is where data comes in. By having tangible metrics and insights, companies can begin to identify problem areas.
In the past, HR teams were reliant on annual staff surveys to gain a snapshot of how individuals were feeling. While taking employee feedback into consideration is useful, it doesn’t give us the full picture, especially since people often won’t self-report issues like depression, anxiety and stress. In fact, for some people, they won’t even be aware of how stress is affecting them - dismissing it as normal, and part of the job.
Fortunately, advancements in technology mean that businesses are now able to go beyond the qualitative annual survey and implement a range of quantitative, data-driven measurements that provide real-time insights into employee wellbeing.
By implementing solutions that gather biometric data such as sleep cycles, heart rate and physical activity, as well as psychological data related to mood, employers can gain insight into their employees’ wellbeing. And by using technology such as wearables, this can all be done in a non-invasive way.
And this technology doesn’t just benefit employers, it also gives employees access to hyper-personalised wellbeing support - something that HR teams have previously struggled to offer at scale. For instance, at BioBeats, our products give employees access to wellbeing tools such as breathing exercises, matches them with personal CBT courses, or even refers them to external therapy where needed.
Importantly, technology enables employers to address stress, poor sleep, and other factors affecting particular teams or areas of the business and offering support where needed, all while keeping personal data private.
Of course, data should only ever be available to employers in an aggregate and anonymised way. This means they’re able to identify issues and tailor their wellbeing initiatives accordingly - without having to procure personal data.
By employing data-led solutions to support and empower teams all-year round, companies can move away from ‘one size fits all’ solutions, towards solutions that identify, and even pre-empt, problems before they become more serious - ensuring that they work to eradicate Blue Mondays.