Employers can help lift the winter blues

Whether it's a post-holiday letdown or SAD, how to help employees pick themselves up and get back on the right track
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 07/21/2003

The holiday season is a time filled with joy and laughter, parties and festivities, good food and good cheer. But, when the holidays are over, many of us feel a kind of letdown. We lose the adrenaline that kept us going.

In the winter, with colder temperatures and shorter days, employees can also be affected by SAD, seasonal affective disorder, which can leave them feeling depressed.

As holiday joy gives way to holiday blues, employers need to find ways to help employees pick themselves up and get back on the right track. Here's how they can help:

Provide financial education

When December's bills hit January's paycheques, panic, stress and depression may set in. Especially this year, with many of us facing potential layoffs and an uncertain economy, financial worries may have an even greater impact.

Employers can help employees gain control of their finances by providing a financial education program to assist them with questions regarding financial issues they face every day.

By calling a toll-free number, employees can tap into the financial arm of the company's resource and referral program, enabling them to access information and resources that will help them with a full range of personal financial issues, including debt consolidation, refinancing and family budgeting. They get the information quickly and confidentially, and the service is free to them, provided as an employee benefit.

Help employees keep their New Year's resolutions

Come January 1, we all vow to make changes: to stop smoking, exercise more, eat right or manage our stress levels. Too often, however, we abandon our resolutions within the first few days or weeks and then feel guilty. As employees vow to adopt more healthy lifestyles, employers should be taking an active role in helping them achieve that goal. They can subsidize smoke cessation programs, offer fitness and weight loss programs and counselling and provide stress management programs.

Give a little "just for me"

As post-holiday blues set in, caring for oneself becomes of top importance. By giving employees what I call just-for-me benefits you provide them with access to information they need to care for themselves. Through their company's resource and referral program, they can then find their own personal solutions to minimizing stress and bringing their lives back into balance.

It is important to note that if the depression lasts for more than a few days and interferes with an employee's ability to work, he should seek help from a mental health professional.

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