How to retain your best staff when the January blues hit

January blues
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As staff get excited for the upcoming festive break, HR managers across the country will undoubtedly be enjoying the minimum stress associated with having a company of jubilant employees. However, it’s crucial to remember that this Christmas high is quickly followed by the extreme low of January blues.

During my CEO training sessions the topic that frequently tops their list of top concerns is how they can retain their best staff – they see it as key for business growth and success; rightly so. The January blues signal the most dangerous time for losing these key players, as staff return to work grumpy that the celebrations have ended.

Many even give themselves a new year resolution of finding a new role, in the hope that having this new focus will give them some much needed cheer.

Mitigating this staff exodus is a no-brainer. As well as the business repercussions, there is also the financial cost associated with replacing staff to consider. Earlier this year a report from Oxford Economics pitted the cost of replacing an employee at £30,614, which reflects the cost of lost output and the logistical cost of recruiting and absorbing a new worker.

Prevention is better than cure; here are my top tips for HR managers to implement now, which will save them no end of hassle at the start of next year.

Reward and recognise

Now its HR 101 understanding that money alone doesn’t dictate an employee’s job satisfaction – it’s much more geared to how valued they feel. Be clever and consider scheduling appraisals, promotions and raises for December, so that staff end the year on a positive note

Address the concerns

For your best staff you need to have a constant dialogue about how they are feeling, so that can preempt any concerns before they escalate.

By being clear about their development plan and what milestones they need to hit to move forward you can ensure they feel both motivated and valued, so when it comes to January they can power through safe in knowledge that there are significant opportunities within their own company, so they don’t need to look further afield to satisfy their ambitions

Be clear on bonuses

In recent years many companies have dispensed with their end-of-year staff bonuses. However, if at some point you did offer them then it stands to reason your staff will be wondering when they are coming back!

Communication is key, otherwise it can leave staff with a bad taste in their mouth when they go on holiday, which will contribute to the likelihood of them getting itchy feet next year. If bonuses are not feasible then it is still important to outline when and how the bonus system will be reinstated.

Carefully consider the Christmas party

Many businesses get the Christmas party so very wrong.

Firstly they assume that the staff have the Christmas party as their calendar highlight, when this is rarely the case – the majority of employees dread having to give up their evening to fraternize with the bosses, and worry about enjoying a drink and letting their hair down in case they embarrass themselves.

Consider putting it to vote to give staff an opportunity to input and shape the Christmas celebration – outline the budget and give various options, such as a great lunchtime meal at a fabulous restaurant, or Christmas gifts. If you asked anonymously you’d probably find that the vast majority would just prefer the money…

Inject some fun

The key to retaining staff in January is by ensuring that they don’t have any negativity to reflect upon during the downtime between Christmas and New Year.

With that in mind consider what you can do in the week before Christmas that will inject some fun and make staff think positively about the company – such as running dress down days, putting on music, putting on a staff breakfast – or even having a pretend Santa coming desk to desk to deliver tea, coffee, biscuits and selection boxes!

Don’t forget the Christmas workers

Lastly, it’s imperative that a special effort is made for any staff that have to work, or are on call, over Christmas. If there is budget you could schedule a pizza delivery to make it a little more bearable, or staff could each contribute a little treat to a hamper for the Christmas workers.

About Shaun Thomson


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14th Dec 2015 14:30

Some great points in here Shaun. January can be a crucial time for businesses as it's the start of a new year, new targets, you don't want to be spending the first few months replacing staff that have left!

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