Let’s ditch Blue Monday

Even though it’s true that this time of year can feel flat at best, or a struggle at worst, we think January can be more than just a time to complain about the darker days and dream of your next holiday! 

Supposedly, the third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year. But so-called Blue Monday was ‘calculated’ as a PR exercise by a travel company back in 2005. 

Even though the rising costs of living are adding to the usual post-Christmas-spending gloom, we think January is still a perfect time for employers to have money conversations with their teams! They might be tougher than normal, but for employees, you could be providing a light to see beyond the gloom, or providing  a guiding hand to help them harness a renewed passion for the future

Here’s five ways to help your team stay excited and empowered to reach their 2023 money goals!

Check in on their money mindset

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to financial guidance, and our mindsets about money can be as unique as we are. So January is a great time to check in on the financial needs of your employees. 

It’ll help them feel valued, but also give you a great steer on how current financial wellbeing initiatives are working. For example, is your financial education focused on the right themes? Are your teams using the tools available to them? 

Last year, we asked employers how much they know about their employees’ financial health. Eighty-eight percent of our respondents said they either never survey their employees to assess their financial health or do it only once a year. So there’s definitely scope to increase the frequency of money health check-ins!

Financial health is for life…not just for January.

It’s also important to make sure your employees feel like financial wellbeing is a business priority, not just a once-a-year placeholder. Long-term money goals, like saving a deposit, take time to achieve. So it’s important to make sure employees have someone to turn to with money questions, or to keep their excitement high, throughout the year. 

Giving your employees different ways to engage with financial wellbeing benefits is key to keeping their interest throughout the year.  When we work with employers we give employees the opportunity to meet with their coach four times a year, as well as access to a 24/7 email helpline for one-off questions. We also offer monthly webinars and full access to a comprehensive Content Library for everyone. 

Alexandra Kosylo, Experian said: “The combination of a human coach and – for those who want it – the planning technology, perfectly addresses both the emotional and rational side of financial planning.”

Capitalise on enthusiasm and get back to the basics

Happily, for many, that Blue Monday feeling doesn’t exist. They adopt a ‘new year, new me’ attitude. Lots of your colleagues will have come back from the break with renewed energy and a desire for self-improvement – in the mood to set goals. And getting to grips with finances will be a popular New Year’s resolution. 

Our coaches find that the new year is an ideal time to help people reflect on their money experiences from the previous year – identifying what was challenging and working out how to handle it in the future. It’s not about guilt though, it’s about identifying priorities and building up new financial habits for the year ahead. 

It’s also a time of year when people often take stock, think about their long-term plans and sometimes make life-changing decisions – changing careers, moving house, ending relationships. Money coaching is a resource people value when looking ahead. 

Now might be a great time to re-connect your team around four money fundamentals. Our coaches recommend these as the best place for your employees to start thinking more about improving their financial health.

Use your investment in financial wellbeing as a tool to foster retention

Even before the cost of living crisis put extra pressure on salaries, January is often the time of year that people start to consider moving jobs. 

There’s plenty of reasons people might look for a new job – a chance to stretch their creative muscles, a greater sense of responsibility, mentorship, or a new career path – but at the moment the desire for a higher salary to meet rising costs is likely to be highest on the list.

We know money is the number one cause of stress and poor mental health among employees and these issues make them twice as likely to look for a new job. But HR teams are under pressure to provide financial wellbeing support to their teams, when salary rises aren’t possible. 

Many workplaces invest in financial coaching to drive retention. Coaches can help us see what’s possible with our current salary – moving your employees’ mindsets from “spending more” to “spending better.” Coaches help employees get to the root of what makes them happiest – so they can be even more intentional with their money. 

One national accountancy firm did the maths and told us, “We pay 20% of salary for recruitment. If we invested in financial coaching for 300 people and 8 stay, that fully covers the cost.” Another Head of HR said, “Even reducing our annual recruitment costs by 2% makes this investment worth it – and that’s before you factor in all the other savings.”

Combat ‘cost of living overload’ with a diverse set of financial wellbeing options

We believe that reaching the ‘third wave’ of financial wellbeing (which is based on 1-to-1 guidance instead of just benefits or education) is the only way forward for mission-led companies. That’s because it’s the only model that is bespoke and flexible enough to help everyone, no matter their situation or money goals.

HR leads have been working hard to get buy-in, build the right support, and get employees engaged. But even so, 91% told us last year that they needed to do better

The third wave requires a holistic approach to financial wellbeing that creates accountability, builds knowledge, is personalised, consistent, and inspirational. But it’s tough to get there! 

Offering your team a diverse set of touchpoints (such as in-person sessions, combined with self-guided learning and planning) can help make financial wellbeing more inclusive and accessible.

Monthly insights for people leaders

Thought-provoking perspectives and trends from our team of consultants and coaches.

Octopus Money Limited is an appointed representative of Octopus Investments Limited which is authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered office: 33 Holborn, London EC1N 2HT. Registered in England & Wales under No. 14069098.

Octopus Money is a trading name of TW11 Wealth Management Limited. Registered in England and Wales (No. 10339119). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Our Financial Services Register number is 763630.

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