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How to motivate your team at the start of a new year

How to motivate your team at the start of a new year

HealthcareTop StoriesWorkforce Management

Whether your teams are fully remote, hybrid or back in the office, January can be a difficult month for feeling motivated and connected to work, especially with the cold, the Christmas comedown and the financial squeeze that often follows December. For many, January is also the month more people are likely to resign. 

Forty percent of Brits think about quitting in January, with a Friday being the most popular day to hand in their notice, while 26% say January is the least productive month of the year. 

The biggest challenge for business owners is motivating teams during a potentially difficult period. The most common reasons people find it difficult to return to work in January:

  • Career stagnation or boredom
  • Issues with management
  • Dissatisfaction with salaries or working hours
  • Heavy workload and unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of appreciation or value

The NHS also estimates around 2 million people experience ‘January blues’ or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during winter. During this time, employees can experience a feeling of general unhappiness, fatigue, anxiety, or depression as the days get shorter and colder, which can also be accompanied by increased eating, trouble sleeping, confusion, forgetfulness, and lack of concentration. 

While this condition is quite common in the UK and countries with varying seasons, employers should not overlook it as it can seriously affect staff productivity, motivation, morale and even their physical and mental health.

Along with the ‘January Blues’ comes increased irritability during January. This could be because December is officially considered the most stressful month. In 2022, more than a third of people admit to feeling stressed about the festive season and 67% feel burnt out. Coming back to the office in January after a stressful December is bound to impact how we connect with work.

January is also when many people struggle with finances due to excessive holiday spending and the extensive gap between paydays. Stress can wreak havoc on physical well-being, with many people citing problems with sleep and susceptibility to illness as major problems associated with stress.

After the Great Resignation, most businesses will focus on the Great Retention in 2023 to reduce staff turnover. There are a few ways to help people feel more engaged at work at the start of the year.

Increase flexibility

Be more flexible about how and when your teams work. Some may be recovering from a busy holiday or still entertaining family, while others prefer to work at home at the start of the year and ease into more office days. Fortunately, more businesses than ever before are offering increased flexibility, which can make going back to the office less daunting for many after the festive season. 

Offer support

Talk about mental health at work. Provide education and resources as part of your benefits program, like subscriptions to well-being apps, virtual counselling, financial advice or an employee assistance programme. These initiatives can be a lifeline for those not feeling motivated, dealing with financial worries, or suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.   

Set goals

Career growth is motivating, and January is an excellent time to talk to individuals about progression, goals and plans for the year. Help visualise what the next few months look like and allow them to expand their skills and face new challenges, which is a great way to boost engagement.  

Rethink your workspace

You can’t change the weather, but you can look at your office environment and make it more conducive to staff morale and productivity. Whether you need to declutter, change the lighting, brighten the space or move furniture around, January is a good time to start fresh.

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