This time of year can look different for everyone, but I think it’s safe to say that most of us have spent the festive season indulging a little too much!
The beginning of January typically brings fresh perspectives. It’s a case of “out with the old and in with the new”.
New year, new me right?!
An estimated 8.5 million UK people are taking part in Dry January in 2024, so we’ve taken a deeper look into how businesses can help their staff, and offer personal perspectives from our very own Engage office.
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Why Dry January?
Dry January is a global trend where participants give up alcohol for the whole of January. A lot of individuals might do this to raise money for charities, for health and mental wellbeing reasons, or to simply enjoy the benefit of a four-week detox after Christmas and New Year indulgences.
Stopping drinking for a month can also make way for other healthier hobbies and changes to your lifestyle. For example, taking up exercise classes, more reading, new hobbies, or finding different ways to hang out with family and friends – rather than relying on the same old local pub at the end of the week!
A personal take from the Engage office
For me, this January is going to be looking like a more “Moderate Jan” challenge – or “Damp January” if you will!
This means cutting down on pretty much all of my bad habits. I want to feel fresh in the mornings with a clear mind and prioritise my all-round health as I begin this new year. Whilst I see nothing wrong with spending time with your friends at the pub, it’s also important to ask yourselves – do we really need another one?
My overall aim of a more moderate approach this month is to save money, spend more time with friends and family doing different activities, be outside more on walks and in nature, and feeling more in control of my health to make me the most productive I can possibly be.
While I’m confident my approach will work wonders for me, everyone has different priorities. It’s important to be supportive of each other and respect boundaries where we can.
So, I asked the rest of the office what their plans were for the upcoming month, and the responses went like this…
“I’m doing a delayed Dry January but beginning from the 10th. I’ve still got a few Christmas drinks leftover, and we can’t be wasteful!”
“Instead of Dry Jan, I’ll be doing Veganuary in an attempt to adopt healthier eating habits and get back to feeling healthy.”
“I’m planning a dry January and February as I pick-up my training ahead of the Brighton Marathon!”
“I’m not doing Dry January but I’m adopting healthier habits generally this year. I think it’s better to do something in moderation for 12 months, rather than go crazy for 11 months and have one month off.”
“I’ll be taking part of Dry Jan too! Really want to kick start this year off right in preparation for a half marathon I’m doing, so fingers-crossed!”
“On top of taking part in Dry January, I’m also planning to do the ’75 Hard Challenge’ to really target all areas of wellbeing, not just fitness.”
Someone who knows all about going alcohol free is Jess Wright, our Senior Employee Benefits Consultant. She recently completed two years without alcohol:
“I think taking a break from booze can be a really good thing to give the body and mind a rest. It’s becoming really popular to have breaks from alcohol and there are loads of health benefits for the brain around drinking less. The variety of non-alcoholic drinks are so much better than they used to be as well – so I think it’s a trend. There’s now a non-alcoholic/low alcoholic bar in London and Brighton called Torstig.
“I know there’s at least three of us that are running the Brighton Half in Feb, so I think training for that will keep people on the straight and narrow!”
How can businesses support employees for Dry January?
Providing the right support and employee benefits is a given for any successful business and employer. The beginning of a new year marks the perfect time to reflect and listen to the ever-changing needs of staff.
Below we have listed some ways to better support your staff for Dry January.
- Typically included with Group Income Protection, Group Critical Illness, and Group Health Insurance
- EAPs often come with an online health portal which provides access to support on everyday lifestyle changes, and services to help limit alcohol intake.
- Also included are free 24/7 counselling and support/information lines if staff are looking for further support to help them cut back.
- EAPs can a great tool for managers, executives, and HR to provide advice and support to employees, especially if staff are suffering but don’t feel able to talk about it.
Other simple ideas to encourage healthier habits:
- Organise more dry social events e.g., morning coffee catch-ups, going out for lunch or dinner, or even try dry events like bowling, arts & crafts related socials, or even board games! This being said, there’s nothing wrong with grabbing a pint or two with colleagues at the end of a busy week, just ensure there’s also options for those taking part in a less-booze month, and no one is left out.
- Sign up and offer free online resources e.g., through Alcohol Change UK.
- Consider wellbeing apps which reward people for healthier habits. We’ve previously arranged a step-count challenge for our staff, creating an element of healthy competition in the workplace.
Planning ahead for the months after Dry January is also important for employee wellbeing. The point of Dry January is to get people thinking about their relationship with alcohol, but also how they can continue to adopt more positive lifestyle changes throughout the year.
Consider encouraging staff to log how they feel throughout their month so they can be truly aware of the difference they’re experiencing. It may be a launchpad to healthier habits for the year ahead.
Need help finding the right employee benefits for your staff?
At Engage Health Group, we help businesses of all sizes and across all industries negotiate the health and wellbeing marketplace, on a local and global scale. We work on behalf of our clients to ensure businesses are getting advice that has their best interests at heart.
Contact our expert team of brokers at [email protected] or call 01273 974419 for FREE no-obligation advice and support.