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15 Jan 2024
by Jane Hulme

4 ways to use benefits to make the sun shine on Blue Monday

A new report demonstrates a clear link between health and happiness and driving productivity

4 ways to use benefits to make Blue Monday less blue.jpg 1


While it can be easy to dismiss Blue Monday, the third Monday of January, as a marketing gimmick — it was apparently invented to sell summer holidays — there is no denying January can be a struggle for mood and motivation.

Yet whether Blue Monday is real or not, it can serve as a poignant opportunity for employers to highlight the significance of employee wellbeing and a reminder that prioritising health, happiness, and productivity should extend far beyond a single day.

A new report from WPI Economics, commissioned by Unum UK, demonstrates a clear link between health and happiness and driving productivity. The results, based on a survey of more than 4,000 employees, revealed that 80% of workers are more productive when they are healthy and happy and the average unhappy, unproductive worker loses nine hours of productive time per week — more than a typical day’s work.

Using insights from this report, here are some tips on what employers can do help employees overcome the January Blues, boost morale, and help set the foundations for a happier, healthier and more productive workforce throughout 2024.

1. Invest in mental health support

With half of employees (48%) reporting their mental health was less than good, investing in resources in this area would be a beneficial place to start. Listening and open conversations about wellbeing and mental health can help managers spot any signs of struggling employees. Intervening early can help reduce the risk that any symptoms worsen into long-term sickness and absenteeism, which can hit health, happiness, and productivity.

2. Be inclusive — one size does not fit all

Today’s workforce is more diverse than ever, including five generations where each cohort has its own specific needs. Getting to know your entire workforce by reviewing absence trends and data from employee assistance programmes and other employee benefits will help maximise health and happiness across your business.

Remember to regularly communicate and signpost all employee benefits so employees can access the right support at the right time. Consistency is particularly important when it comes to promoting employee benefits. New staff join, and longer serving employees might need a refresher on where to find everything. So, keeping employees informed about their benefits package makes sense — our research found that employees with a comprehensive employee benefits package are 35% more likely to be happy at work.

3. Benefits key to unlocking workplace happiness

More than half (58%) of employees said that they would take less time off work and/or be more productive if their employer improved the health and wellbeing services available to them. So, for businesses that can afford it in today’s financial climate, an investment in your employees through benefits could play a significant role in your health and wellbeing strategy.

4. Retaining top talent, encourage new hires

It’s no surprise that happier and healthier employees are more likely to stay with the business for longer, allowing you to retain your top talent and attract new hires, while reducing recruitment costs. The research showed that employees with a comprehensive employee benefits package are 34% less likely to say they’re currently looking for a job with another employer compared with those without employee benefits.


Based on the report it’s clear that investing in workplace health and wellbeing solutions lead to fewer sickness absences, increased productivity, and an increased likelihood that employees will stay with the business.

Blue Monday is a great springboard into wider conversations about prioritising employee health and wellbeing and the role employee benefits can play in building a healthy, happy and productive workforce throughout 2024.

To read the full Health, Happiness and Productivity report click here.

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