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Top HR tips to beat the workplace January blues

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It’s official – January 24 has been voted the most depressing day of the year. According to research from Cardiff University, miserable weather, debt, fading Christmas memories, failed resolutions and a lack of motivation all contribute to the January blues.


Employees have returned to work after the festive break and HR needs to prepare and face the challenge that motivation is quite low. Although for many the festive period is a stressful one, many do not favour returning to work, and reality, as an exciting prospect.

But what can HR do to encourage motivation? Christopher Berry, Managing Director at Computers In Personnel gives some words of advice.

1. A recent survey by Investors in People found that 44% of employees questioned said that a simple welcome back after a break would increase their motivation. Asking staff how they are makes for a good start to the new year.

2. The company newsletter can be a good way to communicate new year greetings and set positive aims and objectives for the year ahead.

3. If staff have worked anti-social or additional hours over the festive period, ensure that their contribution is recognised and taken note of their annual appraisal.

4. Ensure that returning employees are given a forum with which to discuss the holidays and year ahead, this will provide an initial boost to staff communication. This could be in the form of a company breakfast, lunch or just drinks following a company or team meeting.

5. A focus, reiteration and discussion of company strategy, goals and objectives will help encourage employees to think about their personal contribution and goals for the year ahead.

6. Encourage employees to engage with business plans for the year ahead. Offer employees the opportunity to share ideas and thoughts they have such as improving the practices and processes of the organisation or enhancing client relations. This could be through work lunches, staff forums or even a staff ideas box.

7. Post-Christmas blues can often lead to a temporary rise in absenteeism, and it is important to spot such trends before they become a bigger issue. According to 2003 research by The Work Foundation, ‘failure to spot sickness trends costs UK businesses £11.6 billion per year,’ and this kind of statistic illustrates why employers are becoming increasingly careful to measure and monitor rates of employee absenteeism carefully.

8. Following the high energy and celebrations of Christmas in December, January marks a time of performance reviews, new expectations and staff changes that can raise anxiety levels. Consider offering employees stress management advice that they can incorporate into their working day and ensure that supervisors and managers know how to spot the signs of an employee in distress.

9. Consider introducing flexible working hours and reduce stress by helping employees accommodate new year errands.

10. Take time to assess employee training needs for the new year. Learning and self development goals are good motivators and form the basis of new year resolutions. Any support an organisation can offer to help will increase retention and motivation.

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Annie Hayes

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