While we’d like to think that employees return to work feeling refreshed and recharged after the holidays, the reality is that this is not always the case! When the holidays end, the excitement and festivities fade, and employees often feel overwhelmed by the work that has piled up over the break. Additionally, for some employees, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) starts to set in, along with the “winter blues” (a milder form of SAD). According to Workforce.com, 6% of the U.S. population suffers from SAD, and 14% percent have the winter blues. Research shows that these conditions cost businesses $26 billion dollars in treatment costs for depression, and $51 billion due to absenteeism and lost productivity.
As leaders of your organization, it’s important to prioritize creating a healthy work environment for employees, so that they can start the new year off on the right foot. This will ultimately boost employee engagement and employee productivity, and result in a happier team. We’ve developed a list of seven ways that you can help motivate your employees in the new year.
1. Establish clear goals and objectives.
According to Gallup, only half of employees understand what is expected of them at work. The same study showed that only 32% of employees strongly agree that their manager helps them set performance goals, and about 38% strongly agree their manager supports them in setting work priorities. Without clear goals, employee engagement suffers. Gallup recommends three key areas (the three “As”) that managers should focus on to support employees:
2. Instead of "assigning" tasks, encourage ownership.
Research shows that 74% of employees surveyed feel micromanaged by their employers. The job of managers is not to assign task after task to employees and micromanage every step of the way, but rather to empower employees to take ownership of their work. While it is certainly important to provide your team with counsel and support, you don’t want to spoon-feed them all the answers, or inflict your own ways of working upon them. Build trust with employees by empowering them to figure things out their own way. If they make a mistake, it’s a learning opportunity!
3. Schedule regular brainstorming sessions.
Brainstorming sessions are valuable for a variety of reasons. They have the potential to:
A common issue that organizations face with brainstorming is lack of preparation. To avoid feeling scattered or disorganized during a brainstorm, leaders should set a clear agenda, establish goals and objectives for the meeting, and share background materials with employees in advance of the session, so they have time to prepare. This will make for a more fruitful discussion.
4. Allow employees to focus on what they’re most passionate about.
Each of your employees brings different experience, skill-sets, and interests to the table. Identify each of these areas for your employees, and structure their workload accordingly. Certainly not every aspect of their job is going to be enjoyable at every second of every day, but by showing employees that you want to help them create the role they want, it will naturally boost their engagement and overall happiness in the office.
5. Get to know your team, both professionally and personally.
Gallup found that employees who have regular 1:1s with their managers are three times more likely to be engaged than those who don’t. Schedule weekly check-ins with each of your team members to review their workload, set priorities, and check in on their overall health and well-being, both inside and outside of the office. Showing your team that you care about their personal and professional growth will establish trust, which ultimately enables a healthy work environment that breeds productivity.
6. Listen to your employees - and act on their feedback.
Employees want to feel valued, appreciated, and heard, and there’s research to back it up:
Good managers listen before they act. Be sure to provide ample opportunities for employees to provide their perspectives via 1 on 1s, team meetings, town halls, and surveys. We recommend planning a company-wide meeting in the month of January to reflect on the previous year and look ahead at what’s to come in the months ahead. Importantly, you must also act on the feedback you receive! Communicate clearly to employees that you hear them, and set a plan into motion to address any concerns or recommendations they may have.
7. Boost your wellness program
Research shows that employee wellness programs can:
Did you know that one in two employees would like to see a greater focus on well-being at their company? Make self-care easy for employees by bringing wellness directly to work. Some examples include:
For more ideas on how to improve your wellness program, check out our eBook,“18 Brilliant Ways to Boost Wellness on a Budget”.
Related to the topic of motivating employees, we also recently published two eBooks on how to boost employee engagement and reduce workplace stress. These resources provide several other ways to create healthy work environments for employees. We highly recommend giving these a read as you strive to make employee health and productivity the very best they can be in the new year!