Did you know that 35% (1 in 3) of UK employees have considered changing jobs after the Christmas break? In the bleakest winter months, HR teams need to be monitoring engagement levels closer than ever.

This comes as no surprise. After all that festive excess, meeting friends and family and learning about their jobs and their careers, after all the New Year’s resolutions we make to ourselves, who isn’t reconsidering their life choices? And brace yourselves, because January 20th has been declared as the most depressing day of the year. It even has its own official name:

Blue Monday!

Typically, Blue Monday is the third Monday of the new year, the concept first established in 2005. Now, Blue Monday can be easily compared to seasonal blues but believe it or not, UK employees find themselves in a panic due to the expected influx of negative feelings that tend to tug at their heartstrings. 

When it comes to retention and workplace happiness, Blue Monday can be a real wet blanket. Employers may find themselves especially concerned when it comes to retention and company culture, hoping to find that their people have beaten Blue Monday and make plans to stay, as opposed to leaving, their current job. 

Thankfully, there are many steps the People Team at your company can take to eliminate those productivity-draining January blues and boost morale all year round. Here are our highlights:

Plan meaningful initiatives that motivate your people

Of the 1 in 3 UK employees who admitted to considering a job change after Christmas, 45% of them were between the ages of 18-24, and 42% were 25-34. In other words, this affects the younger generation of workers more.

That’s why January is the perfect time for HR to build meaningful initiatives that will help them make an impact, learn new skills, and build on work experience. For example, why not try setting:

  • New opportunities to attend skills courses or conferences
  • Manageable, ongoing goals for the year, with tangible outcomes
  • A new employee recognition campaign through your HR platform

Optimize productivity by designing a more open culture

According to our survey, 44% of people felt less productive at work in January, especially around Blue Monday. However, nearly a quarter (24%) of those surveyed feel less productive but have not communicated it to their company. 

To combat this, HR should be encouraging all employees to communicate how they are feeling with their managers. This January, foster a more open culture by:

  • Leading by example. Start the year off right by making a special effort to build rapport with all teams 
  • Coaching your managers on how to be more available and approachable 
  • Getting C-suite onboard. Encourage them to be transparent on all levels, everyone understands the direction of the business

Keep a close eye on engagement data

To prepare for periods like the post-winter holiday blues, when employees are feeling ready for a change, People Teams should use employee surveys, feedback, and performance tools proactively. Relying on the data gathered, HR and managers can view January as the perfect moment to take action, too:

  • Discuss results and brainstorm for improvement
  • Create follow-up surveys asking specific questions about to improve
  • Design employer branding highlighting areas where employees are most satisfied

January doesn’t have to be Blue. HR can take advantage of a fresh opportunity to design a more meaningful and open employee experience underpinned by people’s data. And make it known that you’re making an effort! As bringers of positive energy and change during those dark winter months, chances are you’ll stay in everyone’s good books. 


from Verity Raphael

Verity Raphael is a Senior Marketing Executive based in the London office. Since graduating with a Masters in English, she has progressed from sales to marketing at Hibob: helping the European People and Talent community feel more valued and connected to their company and colleagues. Outside of work, her passions include modernist literature, underground music, Scandinavian design, positive people and art galleries.