How to keep your staff motivated in the New Year

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The holiday period is over and your staff have returned to work—be it begrudgingly.

January is said to be the most depressing working month of the year. This is because ‘switching back on’ after a long period of absence can take a while. 

Despite the fact that taking holidays is important, as it allows your staff to recharge (physically and emotionally), motivation can be a challenge upon their return.

Although understandable, a lack of motivation can have a major impact on the business. As well as declines in engagement and by association productivity, you’re likely to see increases in absence rates and even employee turnover as well as decreases in your overall business output.

In this piece, we’ll explore the steps you can take to keep your staff motivated in the New Year. The purpose is to ensure that they’re able to hit the ground running as soon as they’re back to work.


Various pieces of research have emphasised the importance of employee recognition. As well as boosting morale, productivity and engagement, it also plays a huge role in motivating employees. By recognising hard work, the workforce is likely to become more committed to the organisation. It doesn’t have to be a costly endeavour, never underestimate the power of ‘thanks’. A globoforce survey found that 86% of employees believe that being recognised at work motivates them in their role.

Schedule catch-ups

It’s a good idea to schedule an individual semi-formal meeting to catch up with employees on their time off work, review of the previous year and plans for the upcoming year. You can use this meeting to set targets and priorities for the year or at least the next few months. These conversations will help to outline expectations, create a sense of involvement and of course boost motivation.


A healthy level of competition can help to re-engage your staff after an extended period off work. It’s said to create a sense of camaraderie, which goes on to increase engagement. However, it’s important to be able to identify when this competition becomes unhealthy. The point is to boost their corporation and not to create conflict between teams or individuals

Highlight the positives

It’s a good idea to remind employees of the good parts of coming to work. Team meetings, exciting projects, back to a routine etc. These are likely to boost enthusiasm and motivation as it gives them something to look forward to.

Easing back in

Encourage your employees to ease themselves back into work. It’s unreasonable to expect them to jump headfirst into major projects upon their return. After an extended period off work, it’ll take some time to get back into the swing of things including waking up early and commuting. So give them some leeway, allowing them to complete mundane tasks such as updating documents, catching up with emails, etc.

Team activities

The main concern employee face when they return to work is the thought of having to wait a long time before their next period away from work where they can ‘have fun’ again. This doesn’t have to be the case, there are steps you can take to change this perception. As well as individual meeting, consider team meeting to talk about the holidays and plans for the coming period.

Values and objectives

This is a good time to remind your staff of the values and objectives of the business to ensure their beliefs align with it. Remind them that their efforts contribute to the bigger picture.


Most staff members will come back to work in the new year with resolutions and targets they’d like to meet in both their professional and private lives. It could be to get a promotion, a pay rise, more responsibilities, training for skills development, buy a house or to join a gym. It’s worth noting, in a modern and diverse workplace, employees are not likely to have similar priorities so it’s a good idea to find conduct research to find out what motivates them. 


When an employee feels stressed, their morale and productivity are likely to suffer. Although certain levels of stress are natural, when it’s constant and unchecked it can develop into other underlying mental and physical health conditions. To combat this, you should identify stress triggers in the workplace and take steps to reduce or eliminate them. Studies have found that January is the most popular month for job changes. Although the most common reason for this is low salary, experiencing work-related stresses is a major contributor to this decision. So by taking step to eliminate stress, you’re also ensuring the retention of your top talent.

This article was written by Peninsula, a company providing professional services to businesses across the UK. 

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