How to Help Your People Beat the Sunday Scaries


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Are Mondays so scary they’re now affecting our Sundays? What should employers do to help anxious workers?

Everything needs a label these days, doesn’t it? Remember when you were a kid and had that feeling of impending doom as Sunday evening approached and another school week lurked just one sleep away? For many, that feeling never quite goes away as they enter the workplace. Even for those who enjoy their job, Sunday evening can still bring anxiety and apprehension about the week ahead.

If you felt we were short of a name for such a phenomenon, you’ll de delighted to know it’s now been labelled the ‘Sunday Scaries’. According to Better Health and as reported in Metro, 7 in 10 of us experience them. That figure rises to 74% among 18-24 year olds, according to the government’s Every Mind Matters campaign.

Do the Sunday Scaries matter?

The name probably doesn’t help in encouraging employers to take the research seriously, but there are reasons to take note of this type of anticipatory stress.

“When an employee is consistently feeling afraid or anxious about coming to work, that experience is likely to have a negative impact on their work performance, resulting in more systemic disengagement,” Achievers Chief Workforce Scientist Natalie Baumgartner told HR Dive.

The same article referenced a report suggesting the Scaries could be contributing to overall worker stress, which costs business billions in lost productivity and (says Bupa) results in 18 million working days lost in the UK every year.

So how can you help your people feel less anxious about Monday morning?

How can employers help defeat the Sunday Scaries?

Look for evidence. Is your sick rate higher on Mondays? Is productivity lower? If so, consider taking the following action: Survey your people

  • Update your health and wellbeing police
  • Review the workplace support you offer and consider whether you need to revise or augment it, perhaps with some of the options below
  • Communicate ways for workers to seek help

Find a common purpose. Josh Levine, author of Great Mondays and co-founder and executive director of Culture Labx pinpointed one cultural cause of the Scaries: alignment around a common purpose: “If an employee doesn’t know why they go to work, then of course they’ll be bummed Sunday night,” he told HR Dive.

Ditch the Monday 8am meeting. The start the week meeting has the potential to place employees under pressure as they return to a full inbox and a looming meeting to prep for. Raconteur suggests rescheduling such meetings to Monday pm to give staff breathing space.

Understand the impact of returning to the office. The Sunday Scaries didn’t vanish while everyone was working from home, but there is some suggestion that the return of the Monday morning commute has increased anxiety for many workers. Workplaces need to support the readjustment, providing employees with a safe space to call for help if they’re struggling.

Share the advice of psychologist Kimberley Wilson who, in a statement for Every Mind Matters said: “If you experience the Sunday Scaries like clockwork every week or feel sad or anxious, try getting active, which can help you to burn off nervous energy, writing down or keeping a diary of what you are doing and how you feel at different times to help identify what’s causing anxiety and what you need to do to help manage it. Small things can make a big difference to our mental wellbeing.”

Make Mondays more fun. Sometimes, it’s just the little things that help make a day bearable. A workplace pet day. A catered breakfast. A meeting-free morning. Such perks won’t make Monday’s joyous without other, deeper-reaching measures in place, but they can play a part.

Does your business have a Sunday Scaries issue that’s affecting your Mondays? Discover how we can help you understand you people better and improve employee engagement – with CintraHR.

Picture of Chloe Walker
Chloe Walker
Chloe is Head of Marketing at the PSSG, leading the team across all our brands with her highly analytical, strategic and creative skill set. Outside of work, she loves spending time outdoors, running and cycling!