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7 Ways to Make Sure You Start the New Year with Happy Employees

The holiday period, that should be full of joy and peace, is often punctuated by stress, anxiety, and frustration. There are deadlines to meet, holiday shopping to do (among unforgiving crowds), and decorations to put up and then take down. With all of this going on around them, employees easily become distracted and lose interest.

Keeping employees engaged is the edge that will propel your business to starting the New Year with a bang. Here are seven ways in which leaders and business owners can inject the motivational spark that keeps employees working to achieve this year’s goals and blast into next year’s targets.

1.       Thank your employees for their hard work

At this time of year, a gift from work is commonplace. What is not expected is a demonstration of thanks for extra effort. Taking the time to do so inspires employees to keep going, realizing that their work is recognized as being valuable. Research has shown that nine out of ten people are motivated to stretch themselves when they are recognized by their manager. Writing a note, sending an email, or mentioning an outperformer in a team meeting produces a massive payback.

2.       Hold your own team awards week

Building on the concept of recognition and thanks, plan a week of awards for work well done. Send an email out a week or two before, and then make sure you send an email out after each ‘award ceremony’. Employees will be motivated to continue their hard work, to see if they are a winner. The value of the award is heightened even further by the email alert, especially if it’s company wide.

3.       Help your employees to be charitable

People work at your organization because they identify with its values and mission. Show them that you identify with theirs, too, by allowing them a day or half-day to undertake volunteer work. Or you could encourage your team to identify a ‘team cause’, and sponsor a team-volunteering day: great as a team building exercise, too, while giving back to the community.

4.       Create a friendly fitness competition

With all the rich food so plentiful at this time of year, everyone puts on a few pounds. Help your employees to fight the flab by introducing a friendly fitness competition. Buy a Wii Fit and keep a tally of who does the most steps during their breaks during December – a gym membership would be a fitting prize.

5.       Allow people to work flexibly

People will be busy in the office, but they will also have huge commitments outside of the office – especially at this time of year. Offering flexible working hours enables people to commit fully to both their personal and professional lives. A working mother or father can take an afternoon out to go and see their child in the school performance; an employee take a couple of hours to buy gifts for loved ones, or any one of a hundred different things that call on their time.

Don’t think that your generosity with company time will go unnoticed: flexible working hours often means the employee is more productive when they are in the office.

6.       Engage people in the decision making process

Empowered leaders in the modern working environment understand that sharing ownership of decisions with their people engages employees more fully. As a part of the decision making process, responsibility for performance transfers to them: when their ideas work, satisfaction increases and motivation follows. And when they don’t work, people will have greater motivation to iterate process and procedure to get it right.

7.       Make every meeting motivational

Hold an end-of-week meeting at which you encourage people to share their positive and negative experiences. The positives help to motivate for the coming week, while negatives act as warnings of pitfalls for others to avoid. These meetings can also be used to make an ‘employee-of-the-week’ award, rewarding someone for outstanding performance or great teamwork.

Looking forward to a great 2016

My team and I would like to thank you all for helping to make 2015 the success it has been. We’re looking forward to 2016 with even greater optimism, ready to face the challenges of the market and the need for great leadership.

We’re also looking forward to taking that journey with you, as you navigate your own market challenges and seek to engage your employees retain and grow your competitive edge. With this in mind, through January we’ll be discussing how conscious communication can empower your leaders in the creation of highly motivated and market leading teams. 

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