Bare Minimum Mondays. For HR, it must sound glorious and horrifying all at once.
Wouldn’t we all like to skate through what seems like the most difficult workday each week? On the other hand, if employees only get the minimum done the first day, how can they possibly accomplish everything that week?
Bare Minimum Monday is a trend growing as fast as any new workplace concept that blows up on TikTok these days. Some say it’s great — going so far as to claim it helps them accomplish more in the week.
Others – perhaps those on the HR side – are a little more skeptical — for now.
What are Bare Minimum Mondays?
Bare Minimum Monday is a continuation of post-pandemic workplace trends – from the Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting to Hush Trips and the Great Regret. More recently, it’s a response to a rise in Sunday Scaries: Nearly 80% of employees suffer from that cloud of dread that hangs over people the day before they have to return to work, according to LinkedIn research.
Employees who once sat around and worried about what they had to do or situations they had to face now use Bare Minimum Mondays to flip the fear on its head. They schedule the least possible work and meetings, and focus more on self-care rituals. That, say proponents, prepares them to tackle everything — and more — on Tuesday and throughout the week.
Counteract or maximize? Both work
“The rise of Bare Minimum Mondays, paired with record-high employee burnout, poses a serious threat to employee productivity and morale, all of which can affect a company’s bottom line and retention,” says Joe Galvin, Chief Research Officer at Vistage. “Those who listen to their workforce, take action to implement a people-first strategy and focus on employee engagement stand to future-proof their organizations.”
HR pros might want to take steps to either counteract Bare Minimum Mondays gone bad — perhaps preventing the alternative Movie Mondays or Try Less Tuesday. Or in better circumstances, you might help employees maximize the benefits of Bare Minimum Mondays.
Here are three ways to counter and three ways to maximize Bare Minimum Mondays:
Counter 1: Increase autonomy
If you’re concerned Bare Minimum Mondays will negatively affect productivity and morale — or you’ve already seen it happen — you’ll want to prevent issues.
One way: Increase autonomy. Or, in other words, decrease micromanaging.
“An emerging HR trend is employee autonomy. That can seem like a scary concept to many business executives, as they are putting their success in the hands of employees while feeling anxious,” says Imogene Groom, researcher and investigative journalist at Digital Adoption. “But, in putting that trust in employees, you’re giving them a thumbs up to prioritize their work-life balance – and in doing so, they will be better placed both mentally and physically to give their all to their work.”
So encourage front-line managers to work with employees devising schedules and workflows that make sense for their sustainability and your operations.
Counter 2: Improve engagement
Employees who want to avoid work on Mondays (And yes, we know that’s not a trend. Even a famous cat has dreaded Mondays for generations) are probably less engaged than you’d want. So Bare Minimum Mondays might be an opportunity to increase employee engagement.
“Creating an employee experience that inspires individuals to show up to work each day is the most effective way to achieve this,” says Galvin.
Give them reasons to want to be part of work on Mondays.
Think of the experience from three perspectives:
- workplace, and
What’s one way you can make the Monday experience better in each area?
“A strong culture can unify employees whether they are in-person, fully remote or somewhere between the two,” says Galvin. Ensuring both the digital and in-person work environments provide the resources employees need to get their work done is crucial. And lastly, ensuring bosses or managers are trained and equipped to lead their teams successfully will help cut down on burnout and low morale.”
Counter 3: Be predictable
One thing that makes Mondays unbearable for some people is its unpredictability. Employees get stressed about what the boss, a client or their least favorite colleague might throw at them. So they shut it out.
If you can add more predictability to Mondays (or any day), you might be able to counter any productivity losses from the bare minimum approach. Work with front-line managers or employees directly to create solid, predictable schedules for Monday mornings — and by all means, try to keep them lean!
Maximize 1: Go with the flow
If you have the analytics available — or use simple anecdotal observation — find out if your employee are truly less productive on Mondays than they are other days in the week. If they are, you probably don’t have much to lose by aiding Bare Minimum Mondays.
“Perhaps introducing a late start on Mondays, or a half day where they only work in the afternoon, will help them to ease into the week,” suggests the Digital Operation’s Groome.
Another way: Ban Monday morning group meetings, and allow for reflection on the week’s plan to reset priorities — and possible deep, individual work later in the day.
Maximize 2: Be prepared
The minimum effort day isn’t about creating a four-day work week. There is still work to get done. Experts recommend employees plan the day well.
Use Friday or even Scary Sunday to organize the Monday schedule rather than just lounge into it. Book off time for that self-care, whether it’s an early morning yoga class, time to meditate or an hour to read. Then book time to ease into work, possibly scheduling moments to connect with colleagues or mentors.
Point is, don’t overbook a day that naturally brings on anxiety. Instead, plan what can be accomplished.
Maximize 3: Encourage balance
Part of the reason employees get the Sunday Scaries is they feel like their “weekend work” isn’t done. They didn’t have the time to enjoy family, friends and hobbies that create their work/life balance.
“The pandemic forever changed our relationship with work as it forced employees worldwide to take a step back and reevaluate their priorities and work/life balance,” says Galvin.
They might not demand more from you to create the ultimate work/life balance, but they’d respond well if you offered to work with them to create a better one.
Invite employees to review their balance — perhaps during the slide into Monday — and talk with their manager or HR to improve it.