How to help your employees beat the January Blues

How can you keep your top talent onboard in January? Here, Aliya Vigor-Robertson of JourneyHR investigates. 

The beginning of a new year is usually filled with mixed emotions. Many employees will still be on a high after the Christmas break, but this excitement can fade very quickly once they’re back to work. As a result, some employees might start to think the grass is greener on the other side, and begin looking for a new job. Rather than consider this an inevitable part of the working year, business leaders need to think about how they can keep their talent on board – even during the January blues.

Why is January important?

After giving their staff a big office party and some time off from work in December, managers often feel like they can relax when it comes to staff engagement. After all, their team will be all rested up and excited to come back to work, right? Wrong. In fact, the exact opposite is often the case.

The belief that staff are less engaged in January is not some urban myth. It’s well known that this is the time when most employees think about changing their job. Recent research by Investors in People has revealed that as many as 60 per cent of employees may consider jumping ship at the start of a new year.

So, what can employers do about it? First, they need to realise that staff need to feel motivated to go back to work. If managers are willing to focus on achieving this goal, they’ll be able to give the business a huge boost and start the new year on the right foot.

Keeping the team motivated

Staff motivation is hugely important to a company’s success – but it can’t be achieved with a one-size-fits-all approach. Business leaders obviously need to consider the needs of their overall team, but must also ensure they are meeting the demands of individual employees as well.

For example, managers shouldn’t assume that the company needs to have a big office social or other group activity to keep the team engaged after the Christmas period. This approach may work well for some, but it will not suit everyone. In order to boost engagement, businesses will need to use different strokes for different folks.

A lack of direction is often a cause for staff to consider moving in January. With this in mind, business leaders should focus on providing a framework – whether it’s a set of team objectives or a company milestone – to reengage the team after the holidays and make them feel like a key part of the business.

On an individual level, this can be achieved by reviewing an employee’s objectives and providing them with guidance on how they can progress. This will help combat that lack of direction that staff can feel after Christmas and encourage them to focus on advancing their career in the new year. New responsibilities and challenges like these can make all the difference for when it comes to keeping individual members motivated and loyal to the business.

Keeping an eye on staff wellbeing

There are some other big reasons that staff feel disengaged in January: Christmas is over, the weather is rubbish, and most are strapped for cash. This can have major repercussions on staff morale and often leave employees feeling stressed or depressed in the workplace. This mental state is bad at any point of the year, but in January, it can be even more difficult for the employee to address with their team.

This is where effective management is invaluable. Managers in the business need to be trained to recognise the signs of stress in their staff and raise it with senior leaders. Anyone whose wellbeing is suffering should be encouraged to share their feelings with their line manager – and should feel confident that their needs will be taken seriously.

And if it’s the line managers who are feeling the strain, the leadership team needs to recognise these individuals and have a similar conversation to make sure their wellbeing is treated as a priority as well. This way for, all employees will be able to focus on their career development as well as company’s goals for the new year.

These efforts will do more than address the needs of each employee individually; they will also allow the business as a whole to show that it cares for the wellbeing of the entire team, which will improve staff motivation and keep employees engaged with the business – not only for January, but the entire year ahead.

Every business experiences some degree of the January blues, but this shouldn’t be seen as an inevitable aspect of the new year. There are some simple steps that companies can take to make sure their staff remain healthy, motivated and engaged. With the right leadership, and effective management, the business can beat the January blues and create a strong foundation for the year ahead.

Aliya Vigor-Robertson is co-founder of JourneyHR

Further reading on how to beat the January blues

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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