SME owners unaware of January Blues effect on staff

Business owners are turning a blind eye to the risk of employee churn as January blues bites, research finds.

While the large majority (81 per cent) of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) believe they aren’t affected by the January blues, two thirds (67 per cent) of employees are currently fed up at work and lack motivation, according to new research by payroll and HR provider Moorepay.

Employees believe they aren’t the only ones lacking motivation in the new year. Nearly three quarters (73 per cent) feel their colleagues are also affected by the January blues.

This sits in stark contrast to the perception of managers and small businesses owners, who are unaware of how their staff feel.

Only 19 per cent of SMEs realise what impact the January blues has on their business. Of those that do, many see external factors as the reason for their staff’s lack of motivation, like it just being that time of the year (31 per cent).

Alison Dodd, managing director at Moorepay says, ‘Our research has shown that there is a large disparity between how motivated businesses think their staff are and how employees actually feel. Businesses need to be conscious of the January blues and actively try to overcome it.’

Work-related stress is considered the primary reason for feeling demotivated by most employees (36 per cent), followed by the long wait to pay day (17 per cent) and the financial fallout of the Christmas celebrations (10 per cent). Consequently, almost half (46 per cent) of all employees say they are likely to look for a new job in the next three months.

Dodd adds, ‘January is often a difficult time for staff, but it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s a great time for reengaging with employees by improving staff communications, organising team days, developing clear career paths, considering pay rises and potentially even making new hires, some of which might feel demotivated in their current jobs.

‘SMEs can overcome the new year slump and boost staff motivation if they embrace the January blues and the potential it holds for their business.’

Perhaps unsurprisingly, for many of those surveyed, cash is the most effective remedy against the January blues. Over half (51 per cent) of employees say a pay rise would help rekindle their motivation, with 12 per cent saying they’d be happier if pay day in January could be brought forward.

When left to their own devices, employees are trying to combat the January blues by focussing on the positive things in their lives (59 per cent), booking a holiday (37 per cent) or by going on a diet (34 per cent).

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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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