New research shows that employees are more likely to take sick days in January than in any other month of the year.
According to data from CharlieHR, HR software aimed at small businesses, the number of sick days taken in the first month of the year is 53% higher than the average of the other 11 months.
The data shows that the winter months are the most popular for sick days, with January being followed by February for having the highest number of sick days taken.
A 2018 report published by the Office for National Statistics says that the main causes for sick days in the UK in 2017 were minor illnesses such as coughs and colds; musculoskeletal problems such as back pain, neck and upper limb issues; and mental health problems including stress, depression and anxiety.
In fact, the ONS has found that 13% of all UK staff absences can be attributed to mental health. This year, so-called Blue Monday, dubbed the most depressing day of the year, falls on 21 January.
"When building and growing a company, focusing on people is the most important thing founders and managers can do," said Rob O'Donovan, co-founder and ceo of CharlieHR.
"Our belief is that looking after your team doesn't stop when they step foot out the office, but it's the responsibility of all good employers to enable their people to build happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. It is perhaps of little surprise that illness is more common in the cold winter months, but it's more alarming how few companies do anything about it."
He added: "Ensuring team members take adequate rest during winter - and don't use all their holiday up over summer - as well as providing time, space and encouragement for them to focus on their wellbeing are critical."