Elevating Employee Well-being: A Monday Mood Makeover

Monday workday blues have been a long-standing challenge, but the rise of Gen Z and TikTok has turned ‘Bare Minimum Monday’s into a viral trend that has caught managers’ attention.  Like the concept of quiet quitting, low performance on Mondays might go unnoticed initially, but as deadlines slip and workloads accumulate, addressing this phenomenon becomes crucial.  The question arises: should managers crack down on these practices, thereby risking losing employees in a tight labor market, or is there a way to help workers better navigate Mondays, acknowledging the underlying truths behind this trend?

The Problem with Hustle Culture

The majority of American workers are baby boomers (born 1946-1964) and millennials (1981-1996).  They have endured multiple recessions, layoffs, and demanding work hours to hopefully reap the benefits of homeownership, 401k’s, and the possibility of retirement.  However, the economic landscape and end-game rewards look less promising for Gen Z workers (now aged 18-26).  These changing dynamics mean attitudes toward work and the traditional American Dream have evolved.  While older generations might have coped with Monday blues by toughing it out and consuming extra caffeine, Gen Zers prioritize “self-care” to manage the stress associated with the start of a workweek.

Monday transitions are a real challenge for many workers.  Physical, mental, and emotional factors like lack of sleep and job dissatisfaction can play a significant role in the prevalence of lower moods on Mondays.  The looming prospect of the workweek ahead tends to negate rejuvenation over the weekend, resulting in feelings of anxiety and dread.  This phenomenon is not exclusive to on-site work, as remote workers also grapple with challenges.  The absence of daily interaction with co-workers contributes to feelings of loneliness and isolation, demanding heightened mental effort to transition into a focused and productive state without the camaraderie and support typically provided by colleagues in a physical workplace.

A 2022 Microsoft report highlighted the struggles of remote workers, citing feelings of social isolation, guilt, and attempts to overcompensate.  Remote and hybrid work was associated with an increased likelihood of anxiety and depression symptoms compared to in-person work, possibly compounded by isolation PTSD from the pandemic.  In both cases, the ‘bare minimum Monday’ trend reflects a deliberate downshift of effort in response to these challenges.

Tips for a Monday Mood Makeover

Because of this trend, supervisors face a choice: address performance issues head-on, potentially exacerbating the situation, or adopt a more considered approach that acknowledges reality.  Here are some practical workplace strategies for supervisors to transform the Monday blues and help employees navigate the transition from weekend to workweek.

1.  Start Mondays on a Positive Note.  Whether on Zoom or in the office, kick off Mondays positively.  Instead of immediately diving into tasks and deadlines, gather your team to acknowledge the previous week’s achievements and successes.  Foster a relaxed, informal atmosphere that promotes open dialogue, not solely about work.  The goal is to help employees feel valued and recognized as unique individuals, not just a cog in the work wheel.  Starting each Monday with a one-hour, relaxing chat with your team (not a goal-focused meeting) goes a long way toward easing everyone into the work week.

2.  Embrace Monday as Prep Day for Team Success.  Avoid overwhelming your team with excessive work or rigid deadlines on Mondays, especially for non-urgent tasks.  Instead, redefine Monday as your team’s pivotal preparation day for a productive week ahead.  Utilize this day to establish achievable and adaptable goals, enabling employees to navigate their workload comfortably and synchronize with the weekly rhythm.  You can propel your team toward four days of enhanced productivity by dedicating Mondays to thinking about the week ahead, process planning, and setting organizational tasks.

3.  Create a Supportive Environment.  Whether working in the office or remotely, ensure Monday access to resources and support.  Establish clear communication channels, conduct regular check-ins, and provide opportunities for feedback and collaboration.  Organize appealing Monday activities, such as virtual coffee breaks, on-site brainstorming, team games, or wellness sessions, to foster social connection and camaraderie.  Workers who feel supported are more likely to accept and embrace your performance expectations.

4.  Foster a Community of Wellness.  Contribute to alleviating Monday blues by championing self-care and wellness for yourself and your team.  If you rarely take vacations, your employees might also hesitate to do so.  Therefore, lead by example in setting the work standards you envision.  Show respect for individuals’ boundaries, discourage excessive work leading to burnout, and actively promote the importance of breaks and rest.  While not all companies can afford benefits like flexible hours, mental health days, or wellness programs, a culture of care and communication is free.  Train your managers and supervisors to be alert to the Monday blues and help employees cope with stress to improve overall well-being.

By implementing these strategies, supervisors can assist employees in transforming ‘bare minimum Mondays’ into ‘motivated Mondays,’ fostering improved morale, performance, and mental health.  Remember, happy employees are productive employees!