What Happens on Bare Minimum Monday?
The idea of Bare Minimum Mondays is to start off the workweek slowly by prioritizing self-care over work duties on Monday, putting in only a minimal effort toward your job on that day each week.
“Many people think it encourages employees to slack off and do less work at the beginning of the week, but the mindset actually provides employees with the space to ease into a busy week in a less frantic way – which is beneficial not only for their mental health and well-being, but also for their productivity and the employer’s bottom line,” said Andrew Hunter, cofounder of job search site Adzuna.
“It means allowing some time at the start of the week for employees to prioritize tasks for the week ahead and giving them the breathing room to focus on what really needs to be accomplished first, meaning pacing themselves steadily.”
Hunter points out that when employees have a Bare Minimum Monday mindset, it can help take the stress out of Mondays – as well as the dread out of Sunday evenings. “It’s a counter to the all-too-familiar work culture where employees feel like they need to attack their entire to-do lists at once on Monday morning, when certain tasks can really be completed at a later date,” he said.
What Triggered Bare Minimum Mondays?
This trend arose at least in part because of Gen Z’s questioning the status quo for how people work and challenging employers to offer more flexible, inclusive and supportive working patterns, according to Hunter.
“Gen Z carried their own unique burdens of the pandemic, including learning how to do college courses online, managing social isolation, having fewer job opportunities available and getting thrown into their first job fully remotely or in a hybrid system,” he said, adding that after experiencing all these ups and downs, prioritizing mental health has become particularly important to Gen Z. “This trend is Gen Z’s way of showing and emphasizing how important it is for employers to be an advocate for mental health and well-being.”
What Are the Benefits of Bare Minimum Monday for Employees?
Clearly, employees can benefit from Bare Minimum Mondays, as the concept allows them to prioritize the “life” side of the scale in work-life balance. By starting the week off slowly rather than at full bore and transitioning more gradually out of the weekend, workers can ostensibly pace themselves better to get through the workweek, week after week.
“This practice gives employees flexibility to pace their work evenly, in a less frantic and more productive way,” Hunter said. “It allows them to remove unnecessary pressure, reducing work-related stress and burnout that can potentially carry over into their engagement, productivity and the company culture.”
Can Employers Benefit From Bare Minimum Mondays?
While some career experts advise workers to avoid overdoing the spirit of Bare Minimum Mondays for fear of appearing or becoming disengaged and derailing their career, Hunter sees a potential positive flip side for employers.
“Having employees who are more refreshed, engaged and productive will have a significant impact on the bottom line, as well as the retention rate amid worker shortages,” he said. “Giving employees more flexibility to plan their schedules helps build a culture of trust, raises morale and reduces burnout.”
While Hunter isn’t aware of specific companies or employers who are implementing Bare Minimum Mondays as a policy, he notes that many managers and businesses are enforcing the general concepts of flexibility and trust that underlie Bare Minimum Mondays.
“On Mondays, managers can schedule a few minutes to connect with their teams in the late morning or early afternoon (not first thing) to set expectations and have a better understanding of who is doing what,” Hunter said. “Or managers can send out an email of the tasks that are a must for the week with notes on what to-dos might take a backseat.”
Hunter also stresses that employers should understand that while they don’t need to encourage employees to slack off, they should actively urge staff to put themselves and their mental well-being first.
“Implementing flexibility will be most effective if employees and employers can communicate well together and really align on expectations, deadlines and priorities,” he said.
Is Bare Minimum Monday Like a Four-Day Workweek?
Some workplace experts have suggested that Bare Minimum Mondays might serve as an effective substitute for a four-day workweek, creating a win-win for employees and employers alike. Unlike the four-day workweek, Bare Minimum Mondays still have teams deployed five days a week, easing employers’ fears of being short-staffed – yet the latter strategy could give workers company-sanctioned “permission” to tend to their personal life and self-care as the week gets started, allowing them to stay healthier and happier and creating a win-win.
“This can be a great alternative to a four-day week if managers and employees are aligned on expectations around deadlines and priorities, and if there is trust between one another,” Hunter explains. “When it comes to longer-term objectives, companies should allow workers the flexibility to independently plan their time around reaching those goals. If there’s alignment between management and their employees on mid-term to long-term objectives, flexibility immediately alleviates stress for both parties, and openly gives employees permission to focus on their mental health inside and outside the workplace.”
How to Avoid Disengaging on Bare Minimum Mondays
Negative career consequences can result from complete disengagement from your job for one-fifth of the time for which your employer is paying you. With that in mind, consider these practical tips from Hunter on how to ease stress on the first day of the week while still bringing your full self to work:
- Make a list of your tasks and prioritize the ones that need to be accomplished sooner, so that you don’t drop the rope on more urgent matters even on Mondays.
- If you’re working in a hybrid capacity or in the office, continue to be intentional about breaking up your workday, as you might do while working remotely.
- Whether working from home or in the office, take a proper break over lunch to eat, walk and/or take a fitness class.
- Wind down at the end of the day with a non-work-related book or podcast.
How Employers Can Support Bare Minimum Mondays
Bare Minimum Mondays simply won’t work in companies with a culture of presenteeism, according to Hunter, who points out that even with strong work cultures and generous benefits, many organizations offer insufficient amounts of mental health days and sick time.
“Employers must look beyond presenteeism and give their employees the trust and flexibility to complete tasks according to their own schedules,” he said. “Managers should work on building trust and leading by example with their own commitment to a healthy work-life balance, which in turn will encourage flexibility and engagement.”