Returning to work in the new year provides an opportunity to communicate the strategic goals and objectives of your business and to create excitement on the vision of your organisational plans. For many it is a recalibration of personal and professional objectives but for some Employees it can prove challenging to maintain a positive, resilient attitude during the cold, dark midwinter months.

Various studies have also found that Employee restlessness peaks in January with as many as 75% of workers actively jobhunting after the Christmas break. With the Irish labour market remaining tight, holding onto key Employees has never been more important.

For people managers in every Organisation, there are some strategies that can be employed to help motivate and retain staff during this difficult time of year.

Provide winter support

The Christmas break is over, the weather is cold, the days are short. It is perfectly normal for Employees to suffer from motivational dips at this time of year. To ensure these seasonal symptoms do not turn into a more long-term malaise, people managers should acknowledge that some Employees may need some support to weather what sometimes seems like an interminable winter. Each Employee will have different levels of motivation so an individual approach is best but some treats or group activities in January can help minimise any seasonal low moods.

New year catch up

January can be a good time to catch up with Employees and gauge how they might be feeling about work and life in general. The turn of the year is a time when many Employees take stock of where their work and personal lives are at. It can also be a good time for people managers to meet with Employees to discuss the year gone by and the year ahead. Setting out clear objectives and individual development plans will act as a motivator for Employees. These catch ups can also be useful for identifying what is going well and what might be frustrating for Employees. It is important to identify the reason behind any Employee dissatisfaction before being in a position to address it. Remote workers in particular may need some increased contact at this time of year to stop the short winter days compounding any feelings of isolation. Some Employers may also carry out engagement surveys or pulse surveys. A winter Employee engagement survey may reveal data that could also be useful to gauge the mood in the workplace.

Address any work-related issues that are identified

If the new year catch up reveals any work-related issues, ensure to address them. Employees will expect leaders to deliver on any promises made concerning work-related problems. Depending on the nature of the problem, it may be necessary to take action on an individual level or on a team level. It may involve operational issues or interpersonal issues. While it may not be possible to resolve issues immediately, it is important to be able to show that steps are being taken to address reasonable Employee concerns.

Provide support with New Year’s resolutions

Not everyone is a proponent of the New Year’s resolution, but a new year often inspires people to make some changes in their lives. Employees may have new fitness goals, work goals or general wellbeing goals that your Organisation could be in a position to support them with. Wellbeing is a key priority for Employees and supporting staff with wellbeing goals could go a long way to providing a motivational boost that will see them through to the more optimistic springtime.

Wellbeing support does not necessarily mean making a huge financial investment in sourcing a workplace wellbeing provider. Providing healthy snack options, helping staff to keep time free for a new training schedule they have established or offering some flexibility to allow an Employee to advance a new hobby are all cost-effective ways to support staff with any new goals they have set for themselves.

Keep the door open

The ‘open door’ policy is a business cliché but it is important that Employees know where to go to if they have concerns. Employees tend to use this policy to report positive events rather than negative ones so at this challenging time of year, make sure that the lines of communication between Employees and leadership remain open. Leading an Organisation means dealing with both the positive and negative issues that arise. While managers are generally not slow to acknowledge strong Employee performances and achievements, it is equally important not to shy away from dealing with tricky Employee concerns which may be more prevalent at this time of year.

To find out more specifics about how to support Employees and address or mitigate any conflict , please contact the team at Adare Human Resource Management – / 01 561 3594 to discuss how we can assist your Organisation.