Christmas is over, the decorations have come down, the New Year’s celebrations are a distant memory – welcome to January. It’s a long, dark month, so it’s hard to find some feel-good factor to cling to – particularly with employees coming back to work after a relaxing Christmas break.
As tempting as it is to start the year as you mean to go on, motivating your employees can be somewhat difficult. Keeping them happy at this time of year can be difficult too, even when you’re trying your best to make employees love you from day one.
There are a number of challenges small businesses face come January. Here, the small business experts at Opus Energy present their tips for helping employees stave off the worst of the post-Christmas blues.
The hangover effect
Hangovers cost businesses 17 million sick days, or £1.7 billion, while the overall cost to the economy from hangovers and drinking totals £7.3 billion. This jumps up at Christmas, with holiday hangovers costing businesses across the country as much as £260 million, thanks to employees suffering from a fall in performance and productivity.
However, the post-Christmas seasonal hangover is worse than the morning-after-the-night-before. Getting back into the swing of work doesn’t come naturally to employees who have had an extended period off thanks to the generous 2016 calendar.
When 3 of January comes around, make sure you don’t put too many demands on your staff in the first few days back; allow them to make a bit of a gentle transition back into real life. The world will be ticking by slowly enough that it won’t make much of a difference.
Once the first week is over, start stepping things up to pre-Christmas productivity levels.
The Blue Monday myth
With Christmas and the New Year over, we can start looking forward to spring and summer – but first we have to get over the dreaded Blue Monday.
A combination of bad weather, the post-Christmas lull, and failing to stick to New Year resolutions means January is a terrible month – but we’re more likely to be feeling bad on Blue Monday, the third Monday of the month and the most depressing day of the year… Or is it?
The formula used to calculate Blue Monday has been widely discredited by academics as pseudoscience; it actually started as an advertising campaign for a travel company encouraging people to book holidays.
Blue Monday is actually an issue of perception; if you go out expecting to be depressed and experiencing a bad day, you’ll probably have one. If you go out ready for a great day, you might just have one of them.
However, the image has stuck and January is a long, cold month. If your staff need cheering up – and you want to banish the spectre of Blue Monday for years to come – you’ll have to change perceptions, making people associate Blue Monday with happiness.
Giving your staff something to look forward to at the end of the month, or at the end of each week, is a good way of keeping them motivated. Flexible starts and early finishes could be one way; a prize draw on Blue Monday with the chance to win extra days of annual leave, along with other prizes, should do the trick.
Taking down the Christmas decorations can make the office feel sparse. With ‘New Year, new you’ in mind, take a look at your workspace – a pleasant working environment can make a great difference to employee morale.
Try changing the layout of the room, introducing some new features like plants or pictures. A splash of colour can transform a drab, uninspiring office into a bright, airy workspace that can help to encourage creativity and productivity. At the very least, conduct a thorough office de-cluttering.
The end of Christmas doesn’t mean the end of festivities; Saturday, 7 January is Christmas Day on the Orthodox calendar, so there’s always a second chance for a surprise post-Christmas ‘Christmas’ to end the first week of the year on a cheery note. A gift-swap or Secret Santa could be the perfect antidote to the post-merriment malaise.
With New Years’ resolutions still at the forefront of everyone’s minds, do your best to encourage a healthy lifestyle around the work place. Promoting health and wellbeing around the office can lead to a boost in productivity and improved mood – undoubtedly beneficial at this time of year.