January and February are the least productive months of the year. How can you help your employees over this slump?
Managers everywhere will perhaps be unsurprised to hear that the first two months of the year are, in fact, the least productive. A study conducted by the data collaboration software provider Redbooth revealed that January is the least productive month in terms of goal completion, with February following at a close second.
So what’s the reason behind this employee morale and productivity nosedive? Although it now feels like the Christmas holidays are far behind us, they have left a complicated mess in their wake. The post-holiday slump is real and it can last quite a while. Employees have had a break with their loved ones and return to the office in the midst of cold weather, and our bodies are struggling with a dopamine letdown, which is linked to decreased enthusiasm and motivation. So although the New Year is a great opportunity for your employees to accept new challenges and opportunities, you might notice the willingness isn’t there as much as usual.
Before your employees begin to associate their low moods with your organisation and start to look for work possibilities elsewhere, you should take this time to motivate and engage employees. Show them they have something to be excited about and that your company is the best place for them.
By implementing the suggestions below, with any luck, March will be your company’s most productive month yet.
1. Begin by Covering the Successes of the Past Year
Employee morale and productivity heighten when you take the time to recognise and reward accomplishments and effort. This shouldn’t be a one-off occurrence — it should take place year-round during employee coaching conversations. But this is a prime time to sit down with your employees and cover their real highlights of the past year. What did they accomplish? What did they learn and what obstacles did they overcome?
It can be easy to lose track of achievements over time, so it does no harm to demonstrate to employees how far they have come in the past twelve months and how far they can go in the years to come. This brings us to our next point…
2. Discuss Training and Development Opportunities
You can’t expect employees to sustain high levels of excitement and enthusiasm for a job if they feel they are at a dead end. Engaged and motivated employees need a challenge and they need the potential to grow. This prospect of development has been found to be a key to employee retention. Fortunately, prioritising training and development also hugely benefits organisations in the long-term.
During your one-on-ones with your employees, discuss what they consider to be their strengths. They might want the opportunity to further develop these strengths for the betterment of the company. It’s also worth highlighting areas for improvement — ambitious employees will want to become more well-rounded, which will make them an asset to your business.
At Clear Review, our performance management software encourages employees to set specific personal development objectives alongside performance objectives. We also enable HR to collate these development objectives so they can easily assess the training needs of each individual and across the organisation.
3. Ask Employees for Feedback on Processes
When employee morale is low, they might start to believe that their opinion doesn’t matter to their managers or to their company. Of course, this is far from true — their input is invaluable when it comes to improving workplace processes.
During coaching conversations, after you have given employees all the help and information they need to improve upon their already great work, make sure to ask for their feedback on the company. Your employees are a goldmine of useful information that could make your company more successful. It will also lift their spirits to see that their point of view is respected and valued.
4. Discuss Exciting Upcoming Changes within the Company
Transparency is key in a healthy, thriving and productive organisation. If there are any upcoming changes in the company that you are excited about, share this information with your employes. They will appreciate feeling included and the changes might also give them a lift. What is your company planning to achieve this year? Are you considering flexible working? Do you have new perks that are about to be implemented? Give your employees something to look forward to and you might find that they have a renewed, more positive attitude.
5. Schedule Regular Performance Coaching Conversations
The most important element with regards to employee morale and productivity is communication with managers. Research from Gallup has shown that employees whose managers hold regular check-in meetings with them are three times as likely to be engaged. Your employees need, and deserve, open and honest dialogue. Regular coaching conversations can incentivise and keep employees engaged and on track, yet CEB research reveals that fewer than half of employees feel their managers are effective coaches.
Starting now, take the time each month to have personal coaching conversations with each and every employee. Over time, you’ll notice your team relationships improve, you’ll benefit from increased trust in the workplace and you’ll see a significant boost in levels of employee morale and productivity.