Those Blue Monday Blues
Blue Monday — the supposed most depressing day of the year. Post-holiday
debt combined with lingering family rifts, and the horrifying
realisation that winter is truly a sunlight deprived landscape, make for
a grim outlook. Add to that job dissatisfaction and you have a truly
But, of course, Blue Monday is completely made up. No one day is the
perfect storm of problems. Even if it were, statistically
speaking, Tuesday is actually the least happy day of the week
since it feels furthest from the weekend. Still, the issues you face are
real and do need real solutions.
At Friday Pulse, we might not be able to help change the weather,
increase marketing spend or launch that new product, but we CAN help
you learn how to beat the Monday blues and improve company culture.
Workplace change comes down to how well people work together.
When Workplace Culture Goes Wrong
How can an organisation create opportunities for people to work well
together? To achieve this, many businesses try and define their culture
— listing a set of values that they want their employees to adhere to.
While it does seem like a good idea, a recent study on workplace culture
found that only 28% of employees thought their organisation’s values
and actions were well aligned.
An organisation’s values (or lack of) starts at the top. In 2018 the
number one reason that the top CEOs left their job was because of
“unethical behaviour.” 39% of the CEOs who were dismissed from leading
businesses in the U.S. left because of allegations of sexual misconduct
and harassment, or because of fraud, bribery, and insider trading.
There is a reckoning engulfing the workplace, and it’s not going away.
Increased scrutiny from employees, investors, and social activists are
forcing companies to be more accountable for their actions than ever
before. That means a culture that encourages positive behaviour, and not
one that turns a blind eye to unethical actions.
As is often the case, high-pressure environments mean that values are
sometimes compromised or stretched. While “winning at all costs” may
have been borderline acceptable in the past, it is clear that few
businesses would claim to want to win by unethical behaviour. The
challenge of improving any workplace is not in defining the culture, but
actually “doing it.”
How to Improve your Company Culture
The thing about culture is that it’s malleable — it changes. While the
news often focuses on how workplace culture turns rotten, we at Friday
Pulse like to focus on how organizational culture can flourish. From our
research, changing your culture starts with the little things like
consistency, celebrating the small victories, and demonstrating
We’ve talked about consistency in the past, but it’s worth talking
Consistency is about repeatability of behaviour so that people can know
what to expect. In practice, it’s about the small interactions with your
employees that can build (or erode) trust. It’s how you follow up on
what your defined values are, and how you go about implementing change.
Any effort to change workplace culture has to be consistent. A one-off
survey or an occasional office party will not change things in the long
run. Change requires regular, authentic conversations with team
Another important factor in changing culture is to not just focus on
problems but to celebrate when things are going well. At Friday Pulse,
we take the science of happiness and positive emotions seriously. While
we think it’s wise to be vigilant about negative trends and respond and
act on issues quickly, it’s also important to focus and build on the
things that go well.
At the individual level, this means talking about what people are doing
well in weekly team meetings or drawing attention to a team member’s
extra effort. At the team level, this means pausing to identify
positives instead of swiftly moving on to the next challenge. Moving on
without taking the time to celebrate can leave team members feeling
ground down and could eventually lead to burnout and resentment.
Acknowledging when work isn’t always great is key to creating an
authentic, positive workplace culture where people feel appreciated and
share challenges. Accepting that some of work is not great is being kind
to ourselves — it respects our authentic experience — and allows us to
be empathetic with others. We like to call this "professional
empathy", and it is one of the best ways of helping people be more
positive at work.
If you genuinely listen to people’s challenges, they start to feel heard
and valued — which itself kick starts a cycle of trust, understanding
and positive emotions. In the long-term, this cycle creates a
counterbalance to the negative emotional experiences of the workplace
and alleviates stress (think of all the times you’ve had to vent when
things went wrong).
We say genuine because so many leaders make a show of listening when
they don’t hear a thing. That’s a good way to kill trust. Instead, build
a space that feels safe for your employees to be honest with you. You
won’t regret it.
How Friday Pulse Can Help
At Friday Pulse, we specialise in making your workplace less blue
through careful monitoring of the employee experience. Our weekly
check-in is an easy way to consistently work at building a better
workplace culture. It encourages weekly team meetings where team members
voice their concerns, and team leaders celebrate victories
and identify upcoming challenges. It also helps create habits of
authentic listening and trust.
In 2020, learn to lead with happiness and you’ll consistently beat the