Regardless of the industry, Mondays can be a notoriously challenging time at work. The common trope of Mondays being extra hard at the office or job site has been hammered home for decades in popular TV, movies, and comedy. However, this stereotype exists because it’s based on truth.
Having “a case of the Mondays” isn’t merely a matter of feeling blue that another weekend has passed or being stressed out about being back under your boss’s thumb. While depression and stress are certainly important workplace issues in their own right, Mondays are also associated with some extremely serious problems like heart attacks and suicide.
As a manager or business operator who cares not only about your team’s efficiency but also their well-being, there are some things you can do to help battle those common Monday blues. You may not be able to mandate how much sleep your staff gets over the weekend or how heavily their problems at home weigh on them when they come in, but you can create an empathetic, focused, and supportive environment. Do this well enough, and your employees may begin to see coming in on Monday morning as an important part of their daily structure and personal support system rather than just another stressor on their plate.
What’s the Deal with Mondays?
It turns out that our cultural distaste for Mondays may be part of a dangerous and toxic feedback cycle, a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy that may create psychological barriers that make Mondays harder than they need to be. A study examining various day-of-the-week stereotypes (think “TGIF,” “hump day,” etc.) found that the actual effects of a particular day of the week were more pronounced when survey respondents were predicting their mood for the upcoming week versus remembering their actual mood from a previous day. This doesn’t mean that your case of “The Mondays” is all in your head, however. Specific Mondays, such as those following a holiday or daylight savings time change, have more pronounced negative effects.
Strategies for Upgrading Your Office’s Mondays
There are a few things you can try as a boss to help your team stay productive and comfortable through typical start-of-the-week struggles. If your operation has an issue with Mondays, try one or more of the following:
- Re-think Casual Team Building Activities – Oftentimes, when we plan special “just for fun” appreciation events for our staff (think catered lunches, jeans day, etc.) or playful, low-stakes team-building activities (company picnics, etc.) we schedule them as an end-of-week reward, or a mid-week bonus to push our employees forward through hump day. Instead, try planning these perks for Mondays. Some bosses fear that special treats at the beginning of the week will leave their staff with nothing to work towards, but this mindset is infantilizing. The morale boost of a Monday pizza party or casual dress day can carry your team into their workweek to pay lasting dividends.
- Structured Monday Morning “Me” Time – if the logistics of your operation allow it, have an hour of prep time/free time built into every employee’s Monday schedule. For best results, this should be early in the day. If that’s not possible, a free hour at the end of the day (or even the opportunity to leave early) can also function as a nice incentive to pull someone through their Monday slump. Always avoid first-thing-Monday-morning meetings, regardless of how hard inspiration struck you over the weekend and how excited you are to share your new ideas.
- Support Good Sleep Habits – most experts track the “Monday blues” back to a simple origin: the fact that many of us disrupt our sleep cycles during the weekend—then pay for it on Monday morning. Distribute workplace literature about the importance of good sleep so that your employees are informed. With personal, wearable technology becoming ubiquitous, you could even develop an opt-in sleep-tracking program that rewards employees for showing up well-rested on Monday.
Every business is unique, and so is every employee. These will not be one-size-fits-all solutions. Whatever you’re able to invest in improving Mondays, remember that empathy and humanity cost nothing and will go a long way toward stabilizing morale and helping employees feel like they are valued and fully invested members of your team.