Almost one in five people consider changing their job in the New Year (Glassdoor, 2016). Imagine losing one-fifth of your work-force within a month! Not only does this add more stress to an already hectic time, but it has knock-on effects on your organisation’s ability to hit the ground running in the New Year – in terms of staffing AND culture.

Whether business sky-rockets over the festivities, or drops altogether, emotions run high during the silly season. And those at the frontline – your team – are the first to be impacted.  It’s no wonder that 9 out of the 10 busiest days to apply for a job were in the first month of the year on career site, in 2017, with January 4th experiencing 70- 75 per cent more applications than average (, 2017).

So as we dash towards the finish-line of 2018, it is more critical than ever to put your people first. 

Why would my employees quit during the Holiday season?

All of our experience in and around recruitment and leadership have taught us that businesses are at risk of losing two types of employees over the Christmas period: Employee (A) who craves change and is motivated for a fresh start in the New Year, and at the other end, Employee (B) who utterly dreads returning to their everyday 9-5 routine.

How can I improve employee retention over the Festivities?

To navigate the highs and lows of the holiday season it is crucial to keep employee engagement up – no matter how your business is impacted by external changes. Only this will see your staff return in the New Year as a robust and energised team.

Read on for 3 steps to help you retain your best people well into the New Year and beyond.

  1. Before the storm hits: Prepare your team for what the season will bring
    As Christmas approaches, energise your people and boost morale to help your team feel confident and empowered for the task ahead. A US study by Captivate Network found that productivity drops 20 per cent during the summer months, projects take 13 per cent longer to complete, and workers are 45 per cent more distracted (Captivate Network, 2017).

5 Ways to Prepare Your Team for the Silly Season

  • Organise schedules early and prepare extra staff or freelancers if needed.
  • Brief your team on expectations.
  • Ensure staff know they can reach out to leaders with questions or suggestions over the season (in addition to meetings, how about a suggestion box?). Staff are often customer/client facing, after all, so they will have valuable insights on how to improve processes, products or services to make things run smoother.
  • Host a workshop for your team to touch-up on skills they will need during the high-pressure season. Many businesses, in retail and hospitality for example, will need staff equipped with excellent communication and customer service skills. A survey by The Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) found that 44% of retail workers have experienced customer violence or abuse, with Christmas likely to cause a surge in retail abuse (SDA, 2016).
  • If you are in a physically labour-intensive industry, re-emphasise safety. Briefing your team on safety procedures will not only help prevent injuries, but it will let your people know you prioritise their safety. Research shows workplace injuries are more likely to occur in November and December, with 25 per cent of workplace injuries in Victoria occurring during these months (WorkSafe Victoria, 2017).

  1. In the eye of the storm: Make sure everyone enjoys festivities at work and will leave feeling positive

 This may sound obvious, but if your team is beaming with pride for their work, their team and the business as a whole when they say farewell at the end of the year, you are more likely to see them back in 2019!

7 Ways to End on a High

  • Thank your people and recognise their achievements! Bring your teams together and reinforce how much you recognise and value their contribution. Where possible, link their work to your wider purpose and achievements – people want to feel they’re part of something and making an impact.
  • Keep it fun! Decorate your workspace, have a free-dress day and play some carols (but not so many you drive staff crazy!). The Christmas period is not the be-all and end-all of the business. Remind your staff you understand they’re doing their best and you appreciate their hard work.
  • Consider profit-sharing bonuses. While performance-based pay incentives are often more effective overall, studies show that when the majority of a workforce enjoys profit-sharing bonuses, employees experience increased job satisfaction, organisational commitment, and trust in management (Human Resource Journal, 2017).
  • Thank-you offerings, such as gift cards, go a long way! BUT no gifts are better than tacky gifts. If you can’t afford nice presents, perhaps donate to charity and show your staff they’ve helped people in need.
  • Be flexible with your team closer to Christmas – parents in particular will be rushing to prepare for the big day.
  • Host a fabulous staff Christmas party and secret Santa! Your team will thank you for a well organised, fun event with a generous tab, good-humoured MC and quality live music. Get creative! Perhaps a themed party will get everyone in the mood.
  • If possible, postpone tricky meetings until next year. For now, celebrate your team, thank them for their fantastic work, and wish them a great holiday season.
  1. In the calm after the storm: Give your team something to look forward to!

    When your staff are at home, putting up the Christmas tree or wrapping presents, and work crosses their mind, let it be because they are excited about what the New Year has in stall.

3 Ways to Welcome Your Team Back After the Holiday Break

  • Have a Game Plan from day one for the business as a whole, for each department, and for every team member. Seeing the 2019 calendar on the wall will give your team confidence in the business direction. Consult with your team about what their priorities are for next year – they will feel valued and part of the process.
  • Allow your employees to get settled back into work. Put a hold on that big project or important meeting until at least a few days into the New Year.
  • Kick those #backtoworkblues memes circling the office and organise a workshop or fun event to promote teamwork and engage your workforce as the New Year kicks off. Yes, it’s important to hit the ground running…soon. But enjoy the positive energy and let the festive atmosphere live on. Consider a DIY event such as a sports day, trivia night, or a staff volunteer day. It will also be a great way to welcome any new team members!

Ultimately, unless you are a one-person band, your people matter more than you do. And as projects wrap up, carols kick off and your business begins experiencing all the changes that come with the seasonal period, it will prove more important than ever to engage your people to keep them happy and keep them around!