I’ve always thought of January as a funny old month.  It’s the epitome of clean slates and new beginnings, a chance to start afresh and plan new and exciting goals.  But it’s also a cold, dark month where the house looks bare after the decorations have been taken down and everything can feel a bit bleak.  And after some lovely time off, going back to work…well, I think we all know the struggle is real.

So, how do you ensure you’re creating a wonderful environment for your returning employees?

Remember you’ve hired people not robots

I love a SMART goal as much as the next person and am a self-confessed planner (it also feeds my desire for beautiful new ‘to do lists’ and other stationery items).  BUT it’s important to also take a moment to stop and reflect on all the wonderful things that you, your team, your whole organisation, has achieved.  In the rush to get to the Christmas break, you may have missed doing this but it’s really important everyone knows the key contribution they’ve made to work and that they receive the appropriate thanks and praise for that.  If you just jump to the next goals before doing this, it can feel like a thankless and never-ending production line of work and that does not happy employees make.

Everyone is different

So there are those like me who love to plan and organise.  Get positively giddy over it.  But popping on my Myers Briggs hat, I’d advise that not everyone does.  Some staff will want to know the big picture before they go into the details, others just want the specifics and then of course there are your free spirits…the ones you panic will never get things done because of their seemingly ‘haphazard’ approach, but who have never missed a deadline yet.  And these differences are what make up the wonderful diversity of a team but have the potential to drive you all crazy in the process.  So now take a moment to discuss, not just what you’re going to be working on in the coming year, but how you’re going to do it and how to celebrate each other’s differences, not fight against them.

Creative vision

Whatever approach individuals in the team have, it’s always good to encourage engagement and motivation by making sure everyone knows how their piece of the puzzle fits.  Everyone wants to know the work they do has impact, Millennials find the need to make a difference particularly important.  So, think of a way to show this…the more creative and fun the better.  Why not have a vision board activity for the whole team – a great fun team bonding activity but with a serious message of what you hope for this year.

And as much as I personally love goals, there is a real trend this year not to set them – to be a bit more fluid and agile (let’s be honest, the past two years has taught us a lot about flexibility), so a vision board could help you set the path, without being too prescriptive.  It is also a great way to not put undue pressure on teams, where a bit of simple guidance instead will keep things moving and allow greater creativity.

Not everyone will fit…

And that’s ok.  Sometimes we don’t manage to hire the right people, that’s ok, we’re all human.  Sometimes we had a great hire and now they need to fly.  Supporting an individual with their career development is crucial early on, it helps motivate them and supports your internal talent pool so make sure you have lots of professional development conversations with your team.  But even when you do this, sometimes you have to let people move on.  If you do that respectfully and supportively, they will talk highly of you and your organisation to others, showing your organisation is a great place to work.  And they may even come back to you in the future when you do have a suitable role, bringing a bucket load of new skills and experience with them.

Whether you take one or all of these approaches, remember we all have a human need to feel part of a team, to feel valued, to want to be motivated to succeed in our roles.  We’re in the year of the so called ‘great resignation’ so now is the time to make your organisation and your team, the place everyone wants to be in 2022.

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