How can you prevent key workers from leaving in January?

05 January 2012 -


Better employee engagement and positive looks to the future can keep your staff loyal to you and your firm, writes Dave Fawbert

After the festivities disperse, decorations come down and radio coverage of Cliff Richard ebbs away (be thankful for small mercies, at least…), the annual return to work and post-Christmas sobriety regime make for a chastening time. Understandably, many workers use that period to take stock of their professional and personal lives, and contemplate potential changes of direction. But as a manager, however, you naturally want to retain your best staff and convince them that the grass isn’t necessarily any more succulent on the other side of the field.

Make your patch greener

The first tradition that the month of January is famous for is, of course, New Year’s resolutions, and as a company, you should be there to support the ambitions of your workers. If employees feel that their goals are aligned with those of their employers, there will be no reason to stray. Obvious ways of achieving this are the use of appraisals, incorporating some goal setting for the next six months or a year. In addition, employees should be made fully aware of all the available opportunities for training and career-enhancement. As well as aiding the retention of staff, this will improve their skills; people are actively looking for challenges in January, and you can provide them within their existing framework.

Workers also have personal goals – chief among them the January detox and desire to lose those extra pounds gained from a few too many mince pies and selection boxes consumed over the festive period. Management should wholeheartedly encourage this by perhaps arranging corporate discounts with local gyms, providing in-house equipment, or organising lunchtime running sessions. After all, a healthier workforce will be a happier, and more productive one.

Always look ahead

January is also a bleak month for weather, which could have a negative impact upon employees’ states of mind. Perhaps a corporate weekend away to sunnier climes would provide respite from the cold and rain – it works for Premier League football squads, so it should work for your team. Or simply the announcement of summer events to come, such as a company ball, sports tournament or arrangements to watch Euro 2012 or the Olympics within the office would lift the mood and help employees visualise their future being at your company, and not elsewhere.

A final, longer-term strategy to retain employees during the difficult month of January would be to revise any existing annual bonus strategy. A lump sum received around Christmas may incentivise employees to leave straight afterwards; perhaps a quarterly or biannual reward would reduce the temptation to jump ship immediately after bonus day.

As ever, communication with employees is the key – if they feel that your company matches their ambitions for the coming year, they will not need to enviously eye the neighbouring field and wonder how tasty the vegetation is.

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