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The January Slump

If you think the Great Resignation is bad for business, wait until the January slump hits

Whether you think The Great Resignation is yet another media-storm, or you’re seeing it’s effects first-hand, current data suggests that people are moving jobs at a greater rate than pre-pandemic.

Whether it’s to seek more flexible working, to further their careers, take a pay rise, or because the pandemic unearthed a new passion remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure: your workforce is currently returning from another disrupted Christmas, the world is still in turmoil, and the January Blues are lurking in the background.

And what’s going to happen when that mid-winter-slump hits against a backdrop of headlines shouting about “candidate’s markets”? People are going to start looking for a new job.

Unless you can make them want to stay, that is.

“But how do I do that?” we hear you cry. Luckily, we’re here to help with our top tips for employee engagement this dreary January.

Give the people what they want

Most people don’t just want a job, they want a career. And they’re more likely to stay put if they believe they have one.

Focus on creating formalised career paths for your teams; after all, if you don’t know what their next step might look like, how can they?

Crucially, make sure to stick to these plans and hold regular check ins with your people to understand whether they’re on track for that promotion, and help them overcome any obstacles.

This isn’t about dangling proverbial carrots, but about actively developing your people.

Not everybody is seeking a promotion or wants to climb a ladder; for those who are happy in their current role, put clear development goals in place and schedule time for L&D – be it accreditations or less formal learning opportunities, like webinars or podcasts.

Not sure what your people want? Ask them.

It sounds simple, but a surprising number of companies have no idea what their people want, because they’ve never asked. It’s easy to read articles and statistics about what gets today’s workforce out of bed in the mornings and apply that to your teams, but your people are just that: your people. They’re unique and have their own wants and needs; make sure you’re providing for the people you’ve got, and not taking a one-size-fits-all approach.

Running a quarterly anonymous survey (actually anonymous – people always know) will uncover all sorts of insights into what your people want, be it health insurance, flexible working, enhanced parental leave, or free cinema tickets.

And, hey, you probably won’t be able to accommodate everything overnight, but let your people know what you are doing – and what you hope to do in the future – to make them feel heard.

Reward people properly

If pay and benefits come up in those employee surveys time and again, you really need to take note. If it wasn’t enough that the media are clamouring about huge salary hikes in this candidate driven market, the internet gives people a huge amount of access to salary data and a view of competitor benefits. Your people know what they could be earning elsewhere, so if you’re paying below the average, there is no room for burying your head in the sand.

Invest in your leaders

The age-old adage states that people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers. So why not take this opportunity to make sure that there are no bad managers in your workplace? Afterall, ‘bad’ managers are often just good managers without the training, tools, or processes to reach their potential. Maybe you have a whole host of budding leaders who are currently driving away great employees?

Invest in management development programmes, performance management software, and a centralised HR platform. Get your leaders singing from the same hymn sheet and watch your workforce become more engaged and productive faster than you can say P45.

Keep the mood buoyant

Remember the January slump can impact everybody. Rather than lean into the low mood, why not take the opportunity to lift spirits in the workplace?

Celebrate. Every. Little. Win.

Whether Jo finally closed that huge deal or Sam got engaged, take every opportunity to keep spirits high with congratulations and acknowledgement of your team’s wins.

Keep employee comms light and uplifting

January is not the month for passive aggressive emails about stapler usage or Zoom etiquette (to that point, no month is). Instead use staff bulletins and Town Hall meetings to introduce new team members and focus on the good numbers where possible.

Cancel any meetings that could be an email and encourage people to take time for themselves.

Those unnecessary meetings are often an exercise in accountability, and likely the reason people miss lunch breaks or work late. Cancel anything that’s not needed and encourage your team to get some fresh air at lunch (????) and clock off on time.

Focus on development and successes in one to ones
We all need to keep on top of objectives, targets, and those all-important numbers, but make sure you’re focusing in on any wins this month. Taking 5 minutes to chat about a great podcast that’s changed somebody’s perspective on their job is an easy way to show you care, and remove that transactional, tick-box feeling.

If you’re feeling the sting of The Great Resignation, now is the time to consider why. After all, there’s a war on talent and the only way to avoid falling victim is to be an employer that people want to stay with.

Strengthen your L&D strategy; speak to our friendly team about how we can help your employees stay motivated, engaged, and happy at work.

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Written by Mara Swann

Mara has a passion for promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion across global workplaces and hopes to inspire learners to focus on their own careers with self-directed learning content.


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