It is interesting that after the enforced joy of New Year’s Eve, we are subjected to the enforced gloom of Blue Monday (January 16). So, no smiles, right?

According to this Wikipedia, Blue Monday only became a thing in 2005, 22 years after the unrelated eponymous New Order song, amid some controversy involving academics in Cardiff. Its originator, Cliff Arnal, says the day was never going to happen but he came up with the concept as a call for positivity – a day when people make bold plans for their future. This concept was used by a company called Sky Travel to promote the holiday.

Arnal predicts the weather, debt levels, time since Christmas, low motivation levels, feeling the need to act, sleep levels, stress, and time since New Year’s resolutions failed. (Arnal also calculated the happiest days of the year to be mid-late June, but we don’t hear about that.)

But others say it’s all balderdash. Wikipedia says that neuroscientist Dean Burnett has described the work as “sarcastic”, with “nonsensical measurements”, and science writer Ben Goldacre says that the calculations “fail to even make mathematical sense on their own terms”.

Yet here we are, despite Arnall himself explaining that Blue Monday is a day of positivity, we’re told to brace ourselves.

For example, Pete Cooper, People Partner and Director of Analytics at Personio, told us: “This year, Blue Monday – the most ‘depressing’ day of the year – takes on another dimension as the cost-of-living crisis bites. , adding to the back-to-work blues.”

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He warns that where employees are not supported, motivation and productivity can suffer – potentially causing people to quit, or “quit”. Blue Monday and quiet leave – that’s quite a combination; Maybe we should chuck a big resignation and a big overretirement into our smorgasbord of misery, just for good measure.

Bluest of Blue Mondays

For Noel Murphy, Senior HR Insights Editor at XpertHR, this Blue Monday is “the bluest of all blue Mondays”. She says: “The onset of the cost-of-living crisis, with high inflation and wage rises that are well below the inflation rate despite being at a 30-year high, was a defining factor of 2022 and the UK is set for a long and deep recession, 2023 as well. It will be dark. This January will be the bluest of all blue Mondays.

Stacey Lowman, Head of Employee Wellbeing at Claro Wellbeing, argues in the article “Blue Monday is bad for business” (although it appears to be quite good for the PR and business psychology fields) that companies should avoid tokenism and “health-washing”. By making genuine efforts to support employee well-being throughout the year.

There is a hint of nominal determinism in the air as Lowman writes: “The following mood and mental health struggles are not confined to a single day and with the post-Christmas lull and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, employers should be re-examining how to effectively. Employees’ mental, Assist with physical and financial well-being.” Does “how to revisit” really mean “give people a decent raise”?

Strike action

Some of us at Personnel Today have wondered whether or not giving people a raise based on at least inflation, or even talking about it, might be a contributing factor here. It seems logical to conclude that nurses, say, would not feel so strongly about Blue Monday if they actually felt valued enough to receive a pay rise in real terms, and did not have to resort to strike action.

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This suggests that Arnal is right to say that Blue Mondays should be a day of positivity: with a good pay rise, many workers will discover that Blue Mondays were actually Happy Mondays. Hallelujah!

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