During the holidays, it’s easy to keep your employees engaged and having fun. There are so many opportunities to host holiday parties, give gifts, and wish everyone good cheer. By January 1st, a new year has begun, and the work that was set aside during the holiday festivities begins to loom.
The post-holiday blues can take a toll on motivation, productivity, and engagement. While the holiday season is just beginning, now is the time to think about how to keep employees engaged after they’ve returned to work in the new year.
The end of one year and the beginning of another can be a hectic time for everyone. Start the planning process early! As employees are scheduling their vacations to spend the holidays with their families, be sure you know who will be gone and when they will be back. Determine who will be responsible for covering their work while they are away. Do the best you can to plan office holiday get-togethers during times when as many employees are in town and available as possible.
As the new year approaches, be sure you’ve scheduled any year-end closing work and assigned who will be responsible for getting it done. Any new business or planning for the new year should also be assigned. When employees return in January, they should know who is responsible for what right away in the new year.
One thing that makes the workplace engaging during the holidays is all the social events employees are invited to participate in between Halloween and New Year’s Eve. Costume contests, treats, Thanksgiving luncheons, holiday parties, and ringing in the New Year are all exciting times and can be so much fun in the workplace. Employees love to share time and celebrate these special moments, but when they are all packed into the last few months of the year, the rest of the calendar seems dull and unexciting.
Office get-togethers shouldn’t be limited to the holiday season. And they certainly shouldn’t be one-time events only planned for December! Employees shouldn’t have to wait an entire year to be jolly and spread cheer with their colleagues. Keep employees engaged throughout the year with fun activities and events that give them a quick break from their work and help them recharge their batteries. You’ll find their enthusiasm will increase and their willingness to work as a team will also improve.
For many, feeling left out or frustrated by a lack of communication can kill their motivation. Not being part of important decisions and hearing about major changes second-hand is upsetting and can create a feeling of “it doesn’t matter” and “no one cares what I think.” That’s enough to cause employees to feel disconnected from their work and can cause engagement numbers to drop.
Make a company-wide resolution to improve communication in the coming year. Pledge to communicate frequently and with transparency going forward. Utilize your company’s engagement software to post company announcements and share important news.
Commit to the Spirit of Giving
The holidays are a fantastic time to get involved in community projects and bring out the philanthropist in everyone. If your company only uses the holiday season as a time to give back or get involved, you could be leaving employees yearning for more. Studies show that employee engagement levels rise when they feel like the work they do makes a difference, and the company makes an effort to support the same values and ideas as they do.
Your company could adopt a policy and celebrate the spirit of giving all year long. Encourage employees to get involved in donating to a local charity or volunteering their time each week with an organization they strongly support. Several programs and organizations facilitate continuous giving through employee payroll elections. Your company’s engagement software may even have an option for employees to use their incentive points towards donating to organizations that partner with the software’s developer.
Acknowledge Great Work
The distractions at the end of the year aren’t always a sign of ramped disengagement. With it being the busiest time of year, your employees need time to slow down, recharge, and spend time doing the things that make them feel fulfilled in life. Engagement numbers drop when employees are continually feeling overworked and underappreciated.
Employees need constant recognition for their work to continue feeling fulfilled. As adults, we spend more time at work than we do with our friends and family. The post-holiday blues settle in when friends and family have all gone home, and we’re back to doing the same job tasks as before.
Help employees get over the hump by acknowledging them for the work they have accomplished. Also point out the good things they are working on at the beginning of the new year. Make recognition a consistent part of the workplace culture. The more often you give recognition, the more feelings of joy and appreciation you are sharing with your employees, reminding them that while they are spending most of their time in the workplace, it can be fulfilling and enjoyable. Knowing you value their work throughout the year makes employees want to come back rejuvenated and ready to take on the next year’s challenges.
Lead by Example
Engagement is not solely the responsibility of your employees. Engagement can only happen when you are also engaged. Lead by example by showing your team how to stay motivated and focused. Show your employees the right way to balance their work-life responsibilities and be sympathetic to their needs to take a little extra time to pick up family from the airport or cut out of work early to attend holiday events. Manage people the way you’d want them to manage you. Hold yourself and employees accountable for their year-end assignments and be transparent about your expectations going into the new year. The more you show employees the right way to balance work and the holidays, the more likely they are to return to work feeling satisfied. Knowing their boss or supervisor is supportive and understanding makes coming into the new year a time of renewed commitment to their work and the company, rather than something they dread day after day for the next 365 days of the year.