Concept Onyx Recruitment

Five ways to motivate your staff through the post-holiday blues

January 20th was officially ‘Blue Monday’ according to those clever marketeers at Sky Travel who created the phenomenon in 2005 to encourage us to book a holiday. But whilst their over-zealous take on behaviour algorithms might have been described by scientists as nonsensical, there’s no denying that we all have a hard time adjusting to life back at work post-holiday season.

A recent report from quality assurance platform Evaluagent found that 40% of businesses said their employees were unhappiest in January, 35% reported employees to be at their least engaged, whilst 40% of employees themselves reported January to be their least productive month. Suddenly the algorithm isn’t looking quite so fabricated.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Where there’s a dip in morale, there’s an opportunity to do better right! And in the same survey more than 85% of employees agreed that businesses could do more to increase staff motivation during this period. So for employers looking to get their workforce invested in pushing the business forward in 2020, there is a clear opportunity to employ some motivational tactics to get things moving. Here are our top tips:

Set clear goals and break them down into actions.

With all the highs of the holiday period over, it’s easy for employees to come back to work feeling a little deflated. As a business owner, you’ve probably been thinking over the holiday period about all the things you’re going to achieve in the coming year. Communicating your business goals with your team is vital to galvanise peoples’ energy and set the tone for the coming year. Whilst it’s good to have big plans, it’s proven that we as humans aren’t all that great when it comes to working towards goals that are abstract or set too far into the distance. We need to turn these goals into shorter, more achievable actions. In other words, work through what needs to be done and plot smaller steps towards it, then start by aiming for the first step. Put in some quick wins and rewards so the team feels they’re making progress straight off the bat. Remember goals should be SMART; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.

Encourage individual goal setting and professional development.

Once you’ve got everyone on board with your business goals, how about encouraging the team to set some personal goals too. Everyone views the New Year as a fresh start so it’s likely they’ve already got some ideas. If you get to a point where your employees are happy to discuss personal hopes and ambitions alongside work aims, then you’re sitting in a wonderful world of trust and mutual appreciation. Take the opportunity to offer to help and support employees with their personal goals, especially when it comes to professional development opportunities.

Give the office some love.

It might be dark and gloomy outside but our offices don’t have to follow suit! Add pictures, plants, change up the furniture, consider a lick of paint or whether you can work out how to open the blind that has been stuck three-parts shut for the past few months. Anything you can do to switch things up and make things feel fresh and new can bring about a positive boost of energy and morale.


Coming out of the back of the busiest period in the social calendar into January can be a bit of an anti-climax, and often businesses feel like they’ve fulfilled their social obligations for the time being. In actual fact this is a perfect opportunity to get your staff members out and socialising with each other to boost morale. Last week we took the Concept Personnel team out for dinner and a cocktail making lesson and whilst our mixology skills left a little to be desired, it was definitely a lot of fun and gave the team a boost!

Ask and listen.

According to research at the Centre for Talent Innovation, when people feel they belong at work they’re more productive, more motivated and 3.5 times more likely to contribute to their fullest potential. The message is simple, engage your employees and ask them how they’re feeling. Getting through the initial ‘fine thanks’ barrier can be tough but a sincere and empathetic approach whilst being sensitive to who’s in earshot can often work wonders. Once you’ve got there, it’s important to follow up, be transparent and demonstrate consistently inclusive behaviour inspiring your team to do the same.

Although we can’t always prevent the ‘Post-Holiday Blues’ from hitting our workforce, there are many ways we can turn the tide in our favour. Instilling positive energy and inclusiveness is key, and if we can make the office a retreat from the stresses of the outside world, then who knows what successes 2020 could bring.


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