7 ways to stop the January blues ruining workplace productivity
The post-Christmas slump can hamper Q1 productivity but you can banish the January blues simply by showing your employees a little appreciation.
The 'January blues' affect more than a quarter of Brits, with many employees feeling unmotivated and depressed as they return to work after Christmas.
Research has found that a lack of money after overspending during December is the main reason people feel down (48%). But the weather, dark nights and lack of daylight also contribute to the gloomy feeling for around 40% of people. Meanwhile, 31% specifically cite going back to work as a depressing factor.
This downbeat attitude is bad news for managers who need employees all fired up and ready to go in order to kick off Q1 with a bang. And not only do the January blues contribute to a lack of productivity, they also play a role in the uplift in staff turnover that takes place during the start of the year - employees who feel disengaged often start looking for new opportunities.
So what can you do to ensure returning to your workplace in January is a welcoming prospect? And how can you boost motivation levels so that everybody turns up as their best selves? Here we share 7 top tips for helping your employees to beat the January blues…
It’s very simple and it costs nothing, but showing your staff appreciation at the start of the year can go a long way to setting the right tone. Gather everyone together for a kick off meeting where you review the previous year - with a focus on the positives - and thank people for their contributions. This could include awards to recognise people individually, as well as the opportunity for people to thank their colleagues. You might also like to throw in any nice feedback you’ve received from clients for good measure.
Tip 2: Beat Blue Monday with a well-timed gift
The third Monday of January is said to be the most depressing day of the year, based on calculations factoring in the weather, finances and New Year's Resolutions. A great way to beat so-called Blue Monday is to surprise your staff with a small gift. Imagine coming to work on a dark and gloomy Monday and finding something lovely waiting for you on your desk (or in your inbox) - it’s bound to cheer you up and give you good vibes about your company. Blue Monday falls on January 16 this year so place your order now!
Tip 3: Organise a January blues-busting social event
People might be feeling a bit partied out after Christmas and New Year but putting something in the calendar for the end of January can help give your team something to focus on. A lunch out paid for by the company at the end of their first month back is a great way to thank them for putting the effort in when they probably didn’t feel like it. If the budget won’t stretch to hospitality, consider doing something fun in-house instead. For example, a January blues bake off competition where everyone gets to enjoy eating the entries.
Tip 4: Give a helping hand with living expenses
As we saw earlier, a lack of money is the core reason people feel bummed out after Christmas and, with recession looming, that’s especially likely to be the case this year. On top of giving a decent salary (which we’ll assume you’re already doing), think about giving a small January Blues bonus. This could be in the form of gift vouchers for groceries or energy bills. Gift vouchers below £50 are not taxable, so they provide an efficient way for companies to provide employees with small bonuses.
Tip 5: Conduct a January blues survey
Make sure you know how your staff are feeling as they return to work by carrying out an employee satisfaction survey. Ask people how happy they are at work on a scale of 1 to 10 and for feedback that gives context to their score. Now you have data to benchmark against, you can repeat the survey every quarter to keep tabs on how satisfaction levels are changing. If they start heading in the wrong direction, you can quickly take action. You can also use the survey as an opportunity to ask staff for suggestions for improving the workplace. Knowing their voices are being heard will help keep your people engaged.
Tip 6: Give employees more autonomy in January
One of the toughest things about returning to reality after the festive break is getting back into a routine. Staff have had days (or weeks) of lounging around watching Christmas telly and stuffing their faces, so that 7am alarm call and 8am train can feel especially jarring. You can let employees ease back into it with more flexible working options. Offering the possibility to work from home or start a bit later can make January much more palatable (resulting in happier and more productive staff).
Tip 7: Provide motivation with inspirational speakers or books
Hearing inspiring stories from interesting people is a wonderful way to get motivated and banish the January Blues. Think about someone you could invite to come into your workplace and speak - it doesn’t have to be a celebrity speaker with a hefty price tag, it could be anyone in your community with an interesting story to tell (or even one of your own people). Alternatively select a motivational book for your team to read in January and organise a book club event to discuss it at the end of the month (we can help you gift staff with books).