January sees nearly a quarter of employees disengaged with the workplace

  • 22% of employees admit they feel disengaged with work during January
  • Being the start of a new year, the weather and typically slower workload is to blame for feeling this way
  • However, feeling disengaged with work is impacting employee’s mental health. 15% say it makes them feel stressed, whilst 13% say it impacts their mental health
  • Employees say they want a pay rise, paid time off, and mental health support

One in five (22%) employees will feel disengaged in the workplace this January, according to new research from MetLife UK.

Blue Monday, has been tipped as the most depressing day in the year for almost 25 years, but does it put too much emphasis on just one day? When employers should be aware that the whole month leaves many feeling disengaged with their job.

Although January is cited as the time of year when employees feel most disengaged with work, it’s not the only month. December was a contender for more than one in ten (12%) employees. Just 11% said they never feel disconnected with work.

The beginning of the year (15%), followed by the weather (14%), and work typically being slower (11%) are among the reasons why employees feel this way. Coming back from a holiday/having time off (10%) and having less money were also factors (9%).

Feeling disengaged combined with January being commonly known as the most depressing month of year is impacting people’s mental health. Almost one in five (18%) say feeling this way makes them unhappy. One in seven (15%) say it makes them feel stressed, whilst almost the same number (13%) confirm it affects their mental health. Worryingly, one in ten (11%) say it makes them feel depressed, and almost the same number (10%) feel anxious.

When asked what support employees want from their employer, almost three in ten (29%) would like a pay rise or bonus, whilst a quarter (23%) would like paid time off. One in five (20%) would like mental health support, one in ten (10%) would benefit from wellbeing classes, and almost the same number (8%) from counselling.

Adrian Matthews, Head of Employee Benefits at MetLife UK said: “Feeling disengaged with the workplace at some point throughout the year is normal. But while January can be difficult, it is a mistake for employers and managers to focus on just one month each year. And even more so, put any emphasis on a just one day! Blue Monday was suggested nearly 25-years ago – but we’re unsure if it still rings true. So, employees need to support staff throughout the year, and it’s vital that employers have robust health and wellbeing policies and benefits in place year-round.

“We undertook this research to understand why – but more importantly how employers can support their workforce and keep them engaged with, and in work. We know that cases of staff stress, anxiety, and depression spike in the winter months, so having effective and varied communication deployed regularly to staff is the best way to help maintain engagement, productivity, and overall happiness at work for all.”

Top tips for employees feeling disengaged with work this January:

  1. Take regular annual leave: It’s a new year, dark nights, cold weather and you’re back to work after having some time off during the festive period. So, it’s common to feel disengaged in January. And this can have a significant impact on our mental health. So, it’s important for your health and wellbeing to take annual leave and spread it out throughout the year. Whilst it can often feel challenging taking time off through fear of an increasing workload upon return making it can be difficult to switch off, it’s important to take some time for yourself – even if it’s just a day or two.
  2. Have regular catch ups: While some employees will be open about the struggles they are facing, some may feel hesitant to admit any issues for fear of being judged. But having regular catch ups with your boss provides you the opportunity to discuss any concerns, and highlights areas where you might need support.
  3. Understand what benefits your employer offers: One in five (20%) employees say they’d like mental health support, whilst 10% would value wellbeing classes, and 8% counselling. It a lot of cases employers could be offering this already, so it’s important to understand what you could be benefitting from work. If in any doubt speak to HR or your boss.
  4. Be there for your colleagues: With just 11% of employees admitting they never feel disengaged with work, many do. And it’s not just in January. There’ll be times throughout the year when you or a colleague might feel disconnected with work and potentially need help. And support can come in many shapes and sizes. From help from your boss, support through your workplace benefits or simply a chat with your colleague.

MetLife UK provides employee benefits to employers and their employees across the UK. It aims to help businesses prepare for the future, perform at their best and protect their staff. Businesses perform better when employees are engaged, are well and feel valued.