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Beating the blues: boosting employee activity during January 

For those working in sectors that are fortunate to be able to ‘wind down’ during the festive period, remotivating the workforce may seem like an up-hill struggle as January is commonly considered as one of the hardest months to stay motivated.

However, through implementing a series of quick fixes, most business leaders are likely to be able to beat the blues and ensure their teams hit the ground running.

Use positivity to combat job seeking in January

With January referred to as the saddest month and Blue Monday named the most depressing day of the year, it’s understandable how many may feel a lack in motivation, culminating in a dip in productivity at the start of the calendar year.  

After the festive period, employees often struggle with a menagerie of barriers to success: battling with gloomy weather, flu season and, in some cases, recovering from a financially pressured couple of months.

Unlike returning from holidays within the summer period, these factors, combined with a period where healthy diets and daily routines are thrown out of the window, can make returning to work that much more difficult.  

Employee mental health should be at the very top of the agenda for business leaders, especially following periods of extended leave.

One of the most effective methods of boosting productivity is by creating a culture that embraces open discussion and allows for flexibility in favour of supporting mental health.

Encouraging small breaks throughout the day that allow for outside walks and promoting self-care – physical as well as mental – and being sure to celebrate smaller wins throughout the month can help to spark motivation within the workforce.

How can HR help employees beat January blues?

Business leaders should also be mindful of creating spaces where teams can easily reconnect.

Simple ways of achieving this can be through scheduling soft-skill training sessions for workers that require team participation, which will help rejuvenate team working mindsets and facilitate social connections.

Focusing on energising the team and actively creating spaces where employees feel supported and taking steps to nurture internal connections between the team is essential. 

January is the month of setting goals, refreshing intentions and kickstarting the year. As a result, new year’s resolutions can help reinvigorate social batteries and reframe the mindset of the team.

Tapping into this by encouraging staff members to pre-plan for upcoming milestones and events, business leaders may be able to help their teams to mentally change gears.  

It's essential to make the transition back into working life as positive as possible. A simple way of ensuring this is by taking – or making – opportunities for reflection on the previous year’s achievements.

Casually reminding staff of past achievements can help reinvigorate their motivations and replace negative feelings of coming back to the office.

Some leaders may choose to formalise this procedure, by implementing an initial welcome-back recap session where the last quarter’s top achievements are highlighted in a quick presentation on the first day back to the office.

HR can help mitigate the 'January blues'

Across sectors, returning to work after little to no structure can be daunting and demotivating for many team members. To combat productivity dips, business leaders should plan to ensure that processes are in place to make the return to work as seamless as possible. Battling anxieties should be at the top of every business leader’s agenda and by encouraging an open dialogue culture and focusing on integrated welfare, team members are likely to settle into the new year faster.  

By Sarah Towers, consulting director at business change consultancy, Entec Si