How to ease your post-Christmas workforce into January

Once the festive season is over and Christmas Day is nothing but a happy memory, it’s time to get geared up for going back to work. However, in the weeks after the Christmas break, you may find it challenging to keep employees motivated and productive.

January is known for its anti-climax feelings after the festive period. It’s also a long, dark month, so the biggest challenge is finding a feel-good factor to improve morale.

Festive hangovers cost British businesses an estimated £260 million, as a result of sick days and staff suffering from a fall in productivity. However, the post-Christmas mental hangover can be more difficult to deal with than the physical morning-after-the-night-before feeling.

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Going back to work doesn’t come easily to some employees, especially if your workplace has been closed for the duration of the festive period. Although you may be thinking, “We’re here to work – let’s get on with it,” the truth is that you may have to put fewer demands on your employees in the first couple of days in January.

Making a somewhat gentler transition back into the real world after a couple of weeks of lazing around eating, socialising and watching TV will be far more effective than taking a hard-line approach and demanding your employees jump through hoops.

If you’re worried this will get the year off to a bad start and leave you lagging behind your competitors, remember that every other business is likely to be feeling the same way!

Get fired up
If you, as a manager, seem fired up, you’ll instil this spirit into your staff. Although you may be feeling the wrench of being away from your happy home life, don’t let it show.

If you’re normally in the habit of holding several meetings per week, get everyone back into the swing of things with a positive email which outlines the goals for 2019.

Organise a more informal gathering at first, where people can be eased back into the workplace routine. Let them have a coffee and share stories of their Christmas antics first, rather than a rigid 9 am start. This gives the staff time to become reacquainted with their surroundings.

Positive spin
Once the business of a meeting begins, introduce the latest incentives for meeting targets. Ensure you talk about the positives and even if 2018 didn’t end in the way that you would have hoped, don’t dwell on anything negative.

Remember it’s “new year, new start”, so aim to put a hopeful slant on everything, rather than starting the new year filled with doom and gloom. Boosting morale among your team will spur them into going out there to follow up any leads that they made before Christmas.

It can be beneficial to sign up for a January trade show. In doing so, you and your workforce will be mingling with other businesses and potential new clients who want to get the year off to a flying start.

Networking this early in the year enables businesses to create new relationships quickly, so they can be nurtured as the year continues.

Make meetings matter
Another tip is to make your new year meetings really matter. According to surveys, on average, only 50% of the meetings we attend are thought to be productive and useful by attendees.

Considering 35% of employees are in six or more meetings every week, if we go away thinking they’ve been a waste of time, this will have a negative impact on morale from the outset.

The success of a meeting largely depends on how focused the attendees are, so if you feel a shorter meeting is all that’s required, don’t drag it out for longer than necessary just because this is the length of meeting you normally have.

There’s no point in having a one-hour meeting when all that needs to be said has been run through in 30 minutes, as boredom will make the employees lose focus.

After a manic year and a return to work, although it can be challenging to achieve the drive to approach each task enthusiastically, it’s crucial you find the impetus from somewhere and lead by example to beat the post-Christmas lull.

Start as you mean to go on!
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