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Employee Morale and Productivity: Overcoming the New Year Slump


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.

To find out more about how continuous performance management can help you improve levels of productivity and performance within your organisation, download our free performance management eBook today.