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Earn some respite from the February blues

<p>It’s the time of year when our snug pants serve as the only reminder of those reminiscent vacation days.</p>

It’s the time of year when our snug pants serve as the only reminder of those reminiscent vacation days. We are heading into the February blues. The stretch between Christmas and Easter is long — it lacks in both sunshine and days off.

During this period, we will notice more sick days being taken, productivity suffering as employees become uncharged, and we may even witness an increase in people moving from job to job, hoping to get a few days break between starting and finishing.

The Atlantic Canadian provinces observe the fewest statutory holidays in Canada, with Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island bringing up the rear with only six observed days. Canada’s Western provinces and territories observe nine or more days, and Ontario and Quebec celebrate eight.

Just because our local governments haven’t been able to do much to adjust this imbalance, it doesn’t mean we can’t impact our own staff and employees. Why not find your own unique way to help employees find mental health respite in the dull days of winter.

Some ideas can include:

Personal days. Provide a set number of personal days an employee can take off during the year to give them an opportunity for a much deserved break. If you have these days in your contract, make sure you use them.

Flexible/bankable hours. With budgets tight, gather your lieu time and use it to take an afternoon off or sleep in one Monday morning.

Vacation days. During your employee evaluation, if money for raises isn’t in the budget this year, negotiate for extra vacation days and use them.

Observing holidays of other provinces locally. For instance, some Newfoundland-owned companies in other parts of the Maritimes grant their employees Regatta Day or St. Patrick’s Day. While some Western Canada-based companies will observe Family Day, and U.S.-owned organizations will celebrate both U.S. and Canadian holidays. Pick a day, such as Munroe Day (Feb. 5) and give your employees an unexpected day off.

We know that all businesses can’t close for a day, so some ideas for them include giving employees their birthday off, or granting a wellness or mental health day.

As an employee, don’t wait for someone else to take charge. Talk to your employer — if you ask, you may receive. We lobbied for a “mental health day” at our office and were successful — you may be, too.

Christina Biluk is a member of FUSION Halifax. Visit FUSIONHalifax.ca to find out how you can get involved to help make Halifax a better place to live, work and play.

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