Companies give staff time off on ‘Blue Monday’

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Startups embrace wellness trends, allowing workers a day off on Blue Monday.’

LONDON, Jan 15: In response to the perceived melancholy of “Blue Monday,” companies are allowing employees to take the day off if they feel too disheartened to work. “Blue Monday,” recognized as the third Monday of January, is believed to be particularly gloomy due to cold weather and the extended gap between December and January paydays.

Psychologist Cliff Arnall coined the term in 2004 when Sky Travel sought a “scientific formula” to combat January blues, aiming to boost holiday bookings and lift winter spirits. Despite Sky Travel’s closure in 2015, “Blue Monday” has become a cultural phenomenon, often utilized in ad campaigns to stimulate spending post-Christmas recovery.

Numerous startups have seized this opportunity to provide workers with a day off, emphasizing “wellness activities” such as hiking or volunteering. This trend aligns with the broader movement towards wellness perks and extra days off, reflecting a growing concern for employee well-being.

Data from job site Adzuna revealed that companies, including WH Smith and EE, advertised 6,800 vacancies offering workers their birthday off. Some even advertised mental health days and “pawternity leave” for employees to bond with new pets.

Despite January being a busy month for new businesses, James Thurlow-Craig, director of Create Designs, allowed his small team to take “Blue Monday” off for the past three years, with activities ranging from charity work to dog walks.

Other companies, like Glasgow-based podcasting business Violet, embraced flexibility, treating “Blue Monday” as a day off to do activities of personal choice, promoting morale and well-being. Maj Hussain, CEO of Magic, a PR firm, considered it a “mental health day,” allowing employees to rejuvenate.

While a survey by MetLife UK found one in five workers feeling disengaged in January, companies offering paid time off on “Blue Monday” aim to boost morale during this perceived low period. However, Dominic Grinstead, CEO of MetLife UK, warned against emphasizing a single day, advocating for a more holistic approach to workplace morale and mental health.

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