How to beat the post-holiday blues: Four tips to motivate staff in the new year

For most Australians, today marks the start of the 2014 working year. After a (hopefully) restful Christmas break, employees and business owners alike return to the daily grind – some a little heavier, others looking more bronzed and most at least a little displeased to be back.

After a relatively positive 2013 which saw the Australian dollar fall, sharemarkets grow and property prices soar, business owners are now preparing for a new year.

But trying to motivate employees to get 2014 off to a bumper start can be a challenge when heads and hearts are still in holiday mode.

The chief executive of the Victorian arm of the Australian Institute of Management, Tony Gleeson, told SmartCompany business owners need to work with staff to inspire them to achieve 2014’s goals.

1. Develop goals

Gleeson says at the start of the new year employers and managers need to reinforce or develop the company’s goals and values.

“Part of it is setting out mission values and goals. We put out a note to all staff to reinforce the organisation’s direction and the key projects we need to work on in the first quarter of the year,” he says.

“Try to spell out the goals and tell staff how they can be involved. What we want to do is engage employees more and try and give them the option, through a staff survey, of helping to develop the culture of the organisation.”

2. Communicate

Gleeson says it’s also important to communicate to staff how they can be involved and what the expectations are of them in terms of completing the business’s major projects.

“We outline the roles and the way in which each person can be involved,” he says.

“Clarify where you want the business to go, the major things you’re doing and how they can be part of it.”

Gleeson says the start of a new year is a good time to have one-on-one chats with the employees before the rush begins.

“Having a chat to them will allow you to connect with them. People like to be heard, listened to and to feel valued,” he says.

“Ask them how their break was and get a sense of where they’re at. The second thing is to make sure there are a number of team meetings at each employee level, and to ensure managers take responsibility of their roles.”

3. Listen

The start to the year can often be slow, so take the time to listen to what the employees want and how they see the direction of the company, Gleeson says.

“It doesn’t mean you listen to everyone equally, but they should all have a voice,” he says.

“But doing this once a year doesn’t work; you need to do it on a regular basis. I’m big on recapping each quarter. We also have a staff committee which people are nominated for.”

4. Work together

Gleeson says bonding activities aren’t always necessary, but it’s important for employers to understand how people best work.

“You need to get an insight into the way people work with one another and how they work together. Not everyone wants to socialise together, but they do have to work together,” he says.

“Work out how they can work better. Be realistic, but find a way for staff to get along with one another.”

Gleeson says ultimately the best motivator is to get staff involved and give them the opportunity to not only contribute, but comment.


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