Have a Case of the Mondays Problem? Here Are Ways Employers Can Make Mondays Monumental

Case of the Mondays

Friday called and said Monday didn’t feel valued.

DICE Leadership is happy to help!

We’re creating workplaces where Mondays are monumental and employees are excited to get back to work.

Why is it important to love Mondays? Here’s what we know:


We spend most of our days working, commuting to work, getting dressed for work, thinking about work, and getting enough sleep so we can go to work the next day. You get the idea. This concept of ‘work’ takes up so much of our lives that It should be a universal belief that if you are spending large amounts of your time away from people and activities you love, you might as well enjoy yourself!

But until that happens, DICE is here to help.

A recent Gallup poll revealed that fifty-one percent of US employees are disengaged at work, sixteen percent are actively disengaged, and another fifty-one percent of employees are searching for new jobs or watching openings while at work.  So who is really working?

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When organizations learn to be inclusive of all people’s thoughts, ideas, experiences, talents and skills, it will increase their ability to outperform, attract, and retain a more effective and highly diverse workforce that reflects the customers they serve.

It will create an atmosphere where employees are encouraged to speak up, solve wicked, crosscutting problems, and spur innovation together.

Here’s how you and your employers can make Mondays monumental.

  1. Free food.  Sixty-seven percent of full time employees who have access to free food at work are “extremely” or “very” happy at their current job. Make Monday mornings monumental by bringing in a breakfast snack or organizing a team lunch. Use this opportunity to learn more about your team. Great leaders use questions as their most effective empowerment tool.
  2. Beth Colbert, former Acting Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), once gave me this enlightening rule of engagement: an obligation to dissent. On your team, establish an obligation to dissent, which means that every team member understands that the goal is to produce the best work product possible, and if there is anything that may hinder that, well, you have an obligation to dissent - to speak up. Just think how many companies could have benefitted from this rule recently?

  3. Zig Ziglar, one of the world's most famous salesmen who inspired millions with his message of positivity and personal achievement, once said that employees have three prime needs: they need interesting work, they need to be recognized for that work, and they need to be let in on things going on at work. Take the time to recognize people. A simple thank you never gets old, so show people that you appreciate their contribution.


If I were Monday, I’d feel downtrodden. Through no fault of its own, Monday has become a day dreaded by workers across the country. And it’s sad because Monday has the potential to be the best day of the week. Why?

Mondays are a fresh start. Rejuvenated workers everywhere file into offices where they have the potential to contribute to a mission that is greater than them. They can make a difference in the lives of each customer they encounter, changing the world person by person.

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Workers, every Monday, are provided a platform to develop their skills and show off what makes them so great.

Yet, so few people take Monday by the reins. Instead, they call out sick with greater frequency or drag their bodies into work while their minds are stuck in the weekend. When most of the employed population is unengaged with the work they do, it’s no wonder that Mondays - the calendar representation of work - is abhorred.

So, how do we make Mondays better for every person that punches the clock?

The key lies in creating workplaces where everyone can contribute in an empowering way. A great guide to start this process lies in Daniel Pink’s Drive. According to Pink, to create better work experiences and increase productivity, employees must have autonomy - the ability to control or self-govern their professional trajectory; mastery - the ability to learn, develop new skills, and gain efficiency in their profession; and purpose - the ability to contribute to a mission that is greater than themselves.

One of the best tools that I’ve seen that touches on all three of these elements is the DICE Lab.

When we first started holding trainings for organizations, we used this workshop to bring all employees into the problem-solving process. Through a series of questions, critical thinking, and strategic planning, the DICE Lab prompted thorough analysis and produced innovative solutions. The best part is that anyone could contribute regardless of their involvement with a program or their proficiency in the subject matter.

The DICE Lab offers employees each of the three components suggested to increase worker satisfaction.

First, employees gain autonomy through the ability to explore other projects and programs. They gain first hand knowledge of the challenges and opportunities faced within different sectors of the organization, as well as the key players involved. For people actively seeking other ways to contribute to the company, these opportunities to engage are priceless.

Next, these workshops promote learning and mastery within and outside of ones program area. The beauty of the DICE Lab is that employees don’t have to know anything about a subject to meaningfully contribute to the collaborative problem-solving process. In fact, the employees who don’t normally work on a particular problem aren’t blinded by familiarity bias and can offer new perspectives and thought-provoking examination.

Lastly, as employees offer their analysis, feedback, and input on a variety of challenges and opportunities, they are intimately attached to the outcome of the DICE Lab and ensuing strategic planning. We’ve found that employees maintain connections with the project and program leads, hold each other accountable, and contribute to the success in various ways.

An important tool in our DICE Toolkit, we offer training on conducting the DICE Lab as part of our DICE Leader Training. We also detail the components of putting on successful DICE Labs and other engagement techniques in our DICE Toolkit. Pre-sell coming soon, so stay tuned!

Finally, while the DICE Lab is an easy way to offer the motivating factors collectively, there are countless ways to promote autonomy, mastery, and purpose (check out these links!).

Want to DIY: DICE-It-Yourself?

Proven methods include offering learning opportunities such as brown bag seminars, webinars, and presentations conducted by subject matter experts to engage employees on topics of interest not related to their jobs; promoting participation on grassroots teams and initiatives that fulfil an employee need not currently addressed such as mindfulness or financial well being; and holding small, celebratory events to commend and share staff accomplishments and program successes with a wider audience.

By creating a space to empower and engage employees through expansive learning and meaningful contributions, Mondays can become better places for all employees.


By now, you get that Monday has a bad rep and we're here to change that.

Monday sets the tone for the week in many ways. An Ipsos Public Affairs survey launched by Mars Drinks for their Rethink the Daily Grind campaign found that 42% of survey respondents felt most energized and productive at the start of the week, compared to just 15% at the end of the week. While employee energy may be high, what really makes or breaks productivity on a Monday is the level of employee engagement. 

But if only 13% of your employees are engaged, as the Gallup poll suggests, then employers are facing pretty negative attitudes on Monday morning, fueled by the 87% of workers that are unhappy and disengaged.

How do you break the Monday Blues cycle?

You do it by focusing on employee engagement by eliminating stress and increasing fun and motivation in the workplace.

Employers can unintentionally undermine employee engagement activities when workplace stressors are not addressed. Global research by Towers Watson in 2014 found that among the people that reported high stress at work, 51% say they are disengaged from their work and only 9% say they are fully engaged.

Reducing stress makes all the difference.

For employees reporting low stress, 57% say they are fully engaged in their work, while only 8% say they are disengaged. The principle workplace stressors identified in this survey were: excessive workloads (compounded by inadequate staffing), unclear job expectations, poor rewards, and overwhelming productivity demands.

Supervisors have the greatest impact on boosting employee engagement when they right-size workloads to match employee and staff capacity, clarify job expectations, and create reasonable, attainable demands for productivity. However, these three areas can often take a considerable amount of effort to assess and improve over time.

The DICE Strategy Hack session is a great way to assess current workloads, business processes, and staffing needs to develop creative, collaborative solutions for improving workplace engagement, performance, productivity, and morale.

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Rewarding and recognizing employees should be a cornerstone of any efforts to boost motivation and engagement while reducing stress.

Here are three suggestions for reducing stress and rewarding employees through Monumental Monday efforts:

Make Monday Moments - Monday Moments is a set-aside time at the beginning of the workweek to provide recognition for work done in the past week and to celebrate the lives of employees. Take time to acknowledge birthdays, anniversaries, and vacations. Bonus points for sharing photos and videos of friends and family, whether a co-worker returned from a work trip or personal vacation. Celebrate accomplishments and milestones. Too often we forget to celebrate successes, and move on to the next project without setting aside time to psychologically gain closure and appreciate the effort put in to complete a task.

Who does this well? Online marketing business, Yodle, has a Queen of Culture position on their staff. Their job consists solely of recognizing employees and making them feel happy and motivated through special activities like free lunches, regular happy hours, and even super bowl tickets for high performance. It may seem excessive, but the proof is in the employee engagement surveys. After employing their Queen of Culture, Yodle ranked No. 3 among large employers in the American-Statesman’s 2013 Top Workplaces project.

Mobilize Monday Motivation - We set ambitious resolutions at the beginning of a new year; let Mondays serve as a time to set monumental goals for the week ahead. Employers that truly want to harness engagement and motivate their employees, must create an environment that fosters creativity and motivation. Find an unused wall or roll in a large whiteboard. Establish a space for employees to be inspired, ambitious, and motivated. Tack up a board on an unused wall and allow employees the freedom and creativity to add inspirational quotes, articles, and pictures that motivate them.  

Who does this well? Zappos takes motivating employees a step further. They offer their employees sessions with life coaches to help them get a handle on both professional and personal goals. Zappos even creates a Goals Department that assisted employees in making and achieving 30-day goals in their personal or professional lives. According to the International Coaching Federation, 86% of companies who implement a coaching program feel the ROI was valuable.

Mixup Monday Manners - Flip the script on the usual Monday stuffiness. Have one Monday a month be a dress down day. It acts as a minor stress relief for those planning outfits Sunday night and issues a slight reprieve from Sunday ironing. Happy Hours on a Monday afternoon aren't common, and thus all the better to put a new tone and tenor onto the first workday of the week. Change up the usual conference room discussion for a walking discussion that serves work goals while offering valuable physical activity.  

Who does this well? AnswerLab CEO schedules Walk & Talk time, one-on-one talks with employees to hear concerns and great ideas from all levels of the organization. The outdoor walks (weather permitting) offer an informal and casual setting for conversations that can be intimidating. Disarm that Monday rigidity with an outdoor walk or set up a brown bag lunch topic that exposes staffs to something new and different to spark creativity early on in the week.

It takes minimal investment to recognize and reward employees. Use Mondays as an opportunity to reflect on successes and goals, reduce workplace stressors, and tap into the high energy that many employees report feeling early on in the week.

Increasing employee engagement will help you avoid that “case of the Mondays” and increase productivity and morale from the very start of the week.