It can feel difficult for staff to feel motivated at work in January. As we explored in a previous blog post, there’s a clear productivity dip during the winter months. That dip is at its worst in January and starts to recover again from February onward.
Why is January such a difficult time for staff motivation? Beyond the drudgery of winter, there’s also the post-Christmas comedown and the dreaded January blues after many of us have had time off. It can be hard to get back into the swing of things, causing a drop in productivity as a result.
Motivating staff in January: top tips
So, how can employers and managers motivate staff in January when the odds are stacked against productivity? Here are a few tips on how to add a positive spin to this difficult month:
Tackle the January blues with fun activities
The fun doesn’t have to stop after December! Going from the socialising and quality time of Christmas to the regular routine can be jarring. Organising social activities for staff can help counteract this. Have a team breakfast with a fancy coffee order and fresh pastries; organise group lunch-time walks for exercise and socialising; go out for a drink or a meal together after work. Creating more social opportunities in the workplace will help keep those blues at bay.
Set achievable New Year’s resolutions
It’s well-known that New Year’s resolutions can be a demotivator for many. Often, people set difficult and vague goals (such as ‘save money’ or ‘get fit’) without measurable outcomes, so their resolutions are hard to keep and leave them feeling like they’ve failed. However, when set with sensible parameters, goals can be very motivating.
Why not encourage staff to set a workplace resolution for January that’s measurable and achievable? Perhaps your sales team can aim to make a certain number of calls, you could publish more posts on the company blog, or an employee could complete a training session/short course they’ve been thinking about doing. Setting and achieving short-term goals is a huge motivator, so can help counteract the demotivating effects of January.
Jump on the January fitness surge
Many of us are looking to improve our health and fitness levels after Christmas – why not take advantage of this motivation and incorporate it into the workplace? Hold a competition to see how many miles employees can walk or run within a month to get everyone more active. Or you could offer free or subsidised gym memberships for anyone who wants to sign up in January. That’ll get people moving and shaking, having a positive effect on their health and motivation levels in the process.
Provide clear feedback often
This advice is true year-round, but managers providing clear feedback to their team regularly is very helpful and motivating for staff. Make sure to celebrate the successes as well as discuss which areas need more work or a different approach; positive feedback can be a big motivator, especially when paired with areas for improvement, as employees know what they're doing well and what they can aim for next.
Show motivation and positivity at the leadership level
All good business practices start from the top – if business leaders are feeling motivated and showing it, this will feed into the working environment to help everyone feel more positive and productive. Take the New Year as an opportunity to build up an optimistic, invested company culture to kick-start staff motivation from the get-go.
Written by Camille Brouard
Camille is a Marketing Executive for myhrtoolkit whose writing interests include HR technology, workplace culture, leave management, diversity, and mental health at work.