Thank goodness 2020 is over. While there certainly is a sense of relief
from surviving the worst year in our lifetime, the beginning of 2021
doesn’t feel much better. We survived 2020, but how many of us
We’ve had nearly an entire year of social distancing and COVID-19
restrictions. The early forecast for the year looks to be more of the
same. With the world continuing to battle an alarming rise in cases,
this is the moment where we face Blue Monday — the supposed most
depressing day of the year that ties post-holiday trauma with winter and
job dissatisfaction. Add that to pandemic conditions, and you’ve got a
recipe for a very blue Monday that lasts all year.
So, what can we do to beat Blue Monday and ensure that 2021 is better
A look back on the resilience curve of 2020
In comparing 2019 with 2020 data, we found a stark contrast. 2019 showed
‘typical’ yearly behaviour — natural peaks around Easter, the summer and
Christmas holidays. However, 2020 was very different.
In March, we saw scores fall 18pts across all of our clients as the
outbreak started and governments imposed unprecedented restrictions. But
after this huge global setback, our data then starts to tell a different
story. A story of resilience. Teams adapting to new ways of working and
organisations adjusting. Scores slowly climbed back up close to
pre-COVID levels of happiness.
The path was still bumpy, and as we ended the year scores were behind
- Altogether, the 2020 average weekly happiness score was 4pts lower
at 67pts compared to 71pts. This happiness gap, if not closed, will
result in lower performance in 2021. From our estimates a 4pt drop
typically translates into a £1,000 ($1,500; €1,200) loss per employee
(in terms of reduced productivity and increased flight
Not addressing happiness levels has some very real cost implications.
Bear in mind that these are Friday Pulse clients who have taken active
steps to address their employee wellbeing and happiness. In other words,
the rest of the marketplace is likely to have far lower scores.
However, there is still reason to hope 2021 can and will be a better
year — the world’s mass vaccination programme continues to offer hope
and we’re also carrying forward important knowledge and wisdom from
We’re now in a world where employee wellbeing is front and centre. A
recent global survey of 1,500 executives conducted by Robert
that 37% of employers are aware that their employees manage heavy
workloads and are at high risk of burnout due to the pandemic. 42%
of companies surveyed have started offering more mental health
resources to assist their employees.
We know the importance of being empathetic, setting reasonable
expectations, being more appreciative of each other and connecting. Many
businesses lead with happiness in mind and have seen great results.
So, how do we beat the Bluest of Blue Mondays?
The biggest problem with the beginning of 2021 is that we are already
exhausted. Many of us spent our holidays in lockdown or isolation, and
we’re all feeling levels of frustration and sadness from the events of
- The question is how do we regain our energy? Where can we get a
lift — especially in our work lives?
It comes down to connecting with one another and empowering your
people to follow their passions. At the risk of sounding
radical, 2021 should be about getting people to enjoy working again,
rather than just building more business value.
Connect and Collaborate
Though we are all socially distant — and in many cases, siloed in our
work — the first step to beating Blue Monday is connecting with others.
When we connect and form bonds with our colleagues (even remotely), it
makes work easier.
We’re all carrying an emotional burden or load these days. Genuinely
listening to each other’s challenges kickstarts a cycle of trust,
understanding and positive emotions. This, in turn, makes it easier to
counterbalance the negative experiences of work and alleviates the
stress of our situations. These are principles that apply in ANY
workplace situation, pandemic or not.
Team leaders can take this further by having team members collaborate on
projects together. It will likely be more enjoyable and productive. And,
in the end, a truly collaborative workplace is good for employee
Variety is the spice of 2021
If you’re in the doldrums of ‘more of the same’, then variety is the
only way to break it up. This doesn’t mean breaking up teams or tossing
arbitrary objectives for the sake of changing things up. It’s about
rediscovering the things we love about work.
With so many challenges in 2021, teams need to cultivate a spirit of
innovation. There is a great opportunity to creatively engage people’s
strengths whilst aligning with business goals.
Talk to your people and ask them about their strengths – especially
their under-utilised strengths. Learn about their interests as well as
their skills and explore how to work together to creatively solve the
challenges you face.
We have a tendency to focus on problems rather than wins. This is
because of negative bias, and in our current pandemic restrictions it
can make a bad situation worse. To counter that, we need to make an
effort to celebrate victories. Even the little ones.
Of course, some problems need to be addressed. There is a time and a
place for that, just as there is a time and a place for celebrating
victories. Yet, for many companies, the time and place for celebrating
wins is later.And when later comes, it’s already too late. Moving on
without acknowledging wins can leave team members feeling ground down
and resentful—eventually leading to burnout.
Celebrating victories means talking about what team members are doing
well or drawing extra attention to a team member’s efforts. It means
relishing the energy that comes from employees being excited about
Thriving in 2021
Thriving, not just surviving, is about connecting with our teams and
having room to follow our passions in work. It’s about rediscovering
what makes us happy in work and celebrating victories. Most important
of all, it’s about recognizing the strength we gained from getting
through 2020 and working together to face the challenges and
opportunities of 2021.
 The monetary impact of a rise or fall in employee experience and morale is necessarily an estimation process. Friday Pulse uses the best, most reliable available information from both external and our own proprietary research to generate these estimates. Click here for further information about the methodology used.”,
 Robert Half commissioned research amongst 1,502 c-suite respondents using an online data collection methodology during July 2020.This was comprised of 300 interviews in Belgium, 300 in Brazil, 301 in France, 300 in Germany, and 301 in the United Kingdom. Respondents included General Managers, Chief Financial Officers and Chief Information Officers with hiring responsibilities across small (50-249 employees), medium (250-499) and large (500+ employees) from private, publicly listed, and public sector businesses across the five countries.”,