Exciting new decade or not, let’s face it, the first 30-odd days of a year can be a challenge.
First, there’s ‘Blue Monday’, the somewhat controversially-labelled “most depressing day of the year”. Personally, I much prefer the Samaritans’ ‘Brew Monday’ campaign. Described as a “takeover” of the concept, this encourages reaching out and connecting with others (yes indeed, over a cuppa or similar).
Finalising this issue of Briefing, I also once again enjoyed the notion of a spot of ‘inclusivi-tea’ at any time of year. Rachel Parker, head of diversity and inclusion at Shoosmiths, highlights how the welcome increase in flexible and remote working opportunities might need some extra management effort around the challenge of workplace loneliness as well. Some may know that, when onsite, the editorial team here aims for a daily ‘fika’ … even today, on press day itself (just going to let you look up that one if unfamiliar).
And even earlier than Blue Monday pops up, we’ve ‘Divorce Day’. Cue plenty of PR highlighting an apparent surge in interest/activity. This year, though, I was a lot more interested in some research from Howard Kennedy, collaborating with a couple of thinktanks, which suggested “69% of ‘corporate highflyers’ have experienced significant difficulty in committed romantic relationships, compared to just 20% of the general population”. We’re talking business owners, directors, senior managers here – so yes, our core readership. In this group, 62% said they were “more distracted and less productive at work” as a result of personal difficulties, 32% saw an impact on controlling their emotions at work, and 46% cited their long working hours as a factor. But only 35% spoke to their employer about the situation.
Sir Paul Coleridge, founder of thinktank Marriage Foundation, said: “Perhaps the standout conclusion must be that the Faustian pact, whereby employers seek to drive ever-higher performance by constantly ratcheting up the targets and bonuses of their high-performing employees, is in danger of being self-defeating if couple relationships and home life are adversely affected.
“Then performance turns down and it becomes yet another example of the law of diminishing returns. Employers need to be actively vigilant and alive to the risks.”