How to Motivate Your Employees in the New Year

Every year the post-holiday blues reappear after a month of festive parties, turkey dinners, and eggnog. It can be an uphill climb to keep employees motivated come January, especially as employees reassess their goals and shift careers if they aren’t happy with their current roles. In fact, job search engine Indeed recognized a 42% increase in searches during January of last year.

January can be a difficult month for companies ranging from start-up to multi-nationals; but it doesn’t have to be insurmountable. We’ve asked business leaders from three companies along the growth spectrum for insight on how they successfully keep their employees motivated after the holidays.

Small Gestures of Appreciation

Whether you’re working in a small office or dealing with offices around the globe, open communication and small incentives can be key to making sure employees are reinvigorated in the New Year.

“Recognize and reward the efforts and behaviors that match your values and business goals,” says Laurie Schultz, CEO of ACL, a global software firm. “It’s so easy to send an email and say thanks for doing what you are doing, you are having an impact on the company.”

When the company lead takes the time to connect with their team about a job well done it can be that little boost needed to motivate employees to put their best foot forward. Even the smallest gesture of appreciation from the C-Suite is not only gratifying to the individual, but also strengthens their ties to the organization.

Other offerings like spot bonuses, hockey tickets, and snacks have a proven benefit to boosting employee morale. Free food won’t break the bank but it shows that sparkle of care the staff will appreciate. All of these actions are minor in the grand scheme of things but the immediate rewards come tenfold with a happy and energized team.

Location and Work Environment

Looking beyond the individual employee and assessing how the entire office team is working in synergy can also be a key contributor to improving the office dynamic. One aspect of this is the layout and aesthetic of the office space.

“We put a lot of thought into how our office is designed with the idea of promoting collaboration among teams in an open plan environment,” says Joe Finneran, VP of Engineering for TIO Networks. “Allowing for ease of communication between different teams and functional areas opens up more verbal communication which can be much more effective than email at certain times and foster a positive dynamic.”

When employees are satisfied with where they work and the environment they work in, it will help them get back into the swing of things after the holidays.

Personalize Relationships

Lastly, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day you are dealing with people, not just employees. Developing a strong connection to the personal interests of your staff unrelated to the business operations, builds trust and a connection that holds value beyond the traditional workplace offerings.

“I motivate my team by making sure when it comes to the holidays they are really off, disconnected and spending time with people they want to spend time with,” says Jeremy Choi, a small-business owner under the Canadian chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. “I treat their personal well being as super important, so they understand I have their back. When they return, they are motivated and focused.”

By incorporating aspects like regularly scheduled touch point meetings with employees to discuss and engage their personal goals tightens the bonds within the hierarchy of the organization. It goes to show when people are satisfied at work and home, there’s far less chance for them to be demotivated.

More time invested into the well being of the team makes for an overall positive workplace. As individuals everyone has their own dreams and goals they want to achieve, it’s important that everyone from the bottom-up gets a chance to realize theirs.

The biggest take away from these perspectives should be that the size of the company doesn’t matter. The key to a productive team during the first months of the year comes down to looking at your company from a personal perspective and assessing how it impacts the people helping grow your organization.

Show appreciation and it will be reciprocated.

Laurie Schultz is the CEO of ACL, a company focused on fraud detection and regulatory compliance.

Joe Finneran of TIO Networks and Jeremy Choi of WPUP also contributed to this story.