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Lost Momentum: The Challenge of a New Year

Written by Robert Darling on Monday, 06 January 2020. Posted in HR, People

With the festive season a distant memory, January can be a challenging and volatile time for the workplace.

Lost Momentum: The Challenge of a New Year

With the festive season a distant memory, January can be a challenging and volatile time for the workplace. January is also the most popular time of year for people to revaluate their career options and in some cases, jump ship. For those feeling the ‘come down’ from Christmas it can be hard to maintain the momentum of a connected and spirited workforce. Team engagement and productivity will inevitably drop as people come to terms with the daunting prospect of a New Year.

This can be especially challenging for employees working in front-line environments and direct customer facing roles, because there’s nowhere to hide negativity.  Equally those working remotely will feel the burden of a New Year in a different way, being away from the hustle and bustle of the workplace they’re even more likely to feel isolated and disconnected from the wider team as they struggle to feel enthused in their roles and to find the motivation they need at this time of year.

The truth is, when most employees would rather still be out celebrating the holidays with their friends and family and it can be a real wake up call when it’s all over.  That's why it’s more crucial than ever to kick start the New Year in a workplace that is fun, dynamic, engaging and one that more closely mirrors personal life. Encouraging positivity through praise and recognition, making January a time to reflect and celebrate the past year's successes with lots of high spirited peer-to-peer feedback sessions or inclusive company-wide announcements is a good place to start.

While Secret Santa might not be the most appropriate team activity at this time of year, boosting morale has no time limit and encouraging team spirit often involves being creative both with timing and detail.  Why not host a year-end party or outing to celebrate all the great achievements?

Why is it that we overlook the need for fun team moments at the start of the year? If we don’t want January to be ‘doom and gloom’ – we need to think ahead and look at new ways to help teams to feel united, appreciated and optimistic at this time of the year. This begins with understanding what your workforce wants and what things really matter to them. For example, if employees are craving more time at home with family, consider increasing work flexibility in January by allowing more remote working as a means to balance work and home life - this way, staff will be able to manage their time better during the holidays. 

Of course, increasing the opportunity for remote working has its own challenges and as such, it becomes extremely important to keep momentum up and to avoid isolation.  More businesses are turning to various kinds of technology and mobile-led apps to help widen the available channels of communication in a more familiar way and this and this is set to become a growing trend in 2020 and beyond. Ensuring that all workers (regardless of location) feel connected and engaged is vital.  

Just because your employees are working from different locations doesn’t mean you can’t share feedback, recognise hard work and check in on task progress regularly, instantly and dynamically.  This becomes even more relevant for remote workforces, in preventing them from feeling neglected and lonely and retaining a happy and productive team that feels included. On a wider company level, the ability to reach out to any employer instantly and share transparent, company-wide announcements can be a game-changer for strengthening company culture and ensuring remote workers feel part of the workplace community. 

Although January can still be a difficult month for boosting engagement as employees transition from "holiday mode" to the routine of work. Employers should instead try to focus on the excitement of a New Year by openly celebrating success, rewarding staff for hard work and sharing an inspiring business vision for 2020 – one where everyone’s input matters. In the same way we make New Year’s resolutions in our personal lives, take time to catch up with individual employees and discuss clear goals and aspirations for the coming year. This also helps to gain a clearer understanding of how leaders can best support their teams in achieving these goals. Showing a visible commitment to every employee’s growth and development at the start of the year will also help to alleviate feelings of discontentment and demonstrate that the business recognises the need for career progression and the personal thirst for learning and growth.

About the Author

Robert Darling

Robert Darling

Robert is COO and CCO of Eko Group Holdings, bringing over 15 years of experience to Eko to drive the company’s global expansion and business development strategy forward. 

Before moving to his current role, Robert served as Eko’s Head of Engineering and Product. His knowledge across multiple departments provides Robert with a unique perspective to Eko. Now, Robert champions cross-team collaboration and global alignment across our offices. His work is reinforced by the proven success in his career, which includes leading AMEX’s international web product across 20+ countries, and selling his own UK startup. 

Robert holds an MBA from John Hopkins and a BSc in Computer Science, University of MD.

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