For so many, this recent Christmas break will have been a memorable one.
The pandemic related events of the last two years has affected (and continues to affect) each of us in different ways. A philosophical consequence of such challenging times surely must be our ability to reflect and evaluate what’s important in our lives…and to do so with a heightened vigour to achieving it.
As much as anything else, the holidays are often an evaluation of our work life and as a team leader, the return to work for your people marks a great opportunity to lay the foundations to aim big for your organisation in the year ahead.
Reconnecting teams after a break is key.
As I sit in my camp chair on holidays writing this (while trying to keep one eye on my children having the time of their lives playing in the sand and soaking up the sun) I’m reminded of how busy the end of the year was. It seemed all stops were pulled out to meet deadlines. With the shutting of the business or migration to skeleton staff imminent, the work just seemed to keep rolling in. As a result, the family/social life for a time was cut short. It’s a familiar story for so many and inevitably the time we have off over the break to slump into a chair of our own undoubtedly parlays into the overall work fulfilment that we feel. That fulfilment can of course come in many forms. It can be the nature of:
Cultural– are we happy when we turn up to work? Do we feel that we ‘fit in’?
Mental– are we mentally challenged by what we do?
Balance– is there a good work-life balance? Or do we feel we work too much and feel stressed?
Recognition– do we feel the work that we do is acknowledged?
Five steps to employee engagement in the new year
1. Welcome your team and bring them into the fold
The first weeks back may be the first time everyone has seen each other in a while so finding a way to connect you to the group is important. As a leader speaking to the group it’s important to acknowledge the time off, the year ahead and openly state the comfort the team should feel in coming to you for anything they need. Ensure your talk is lined with positivity and geared towards making this your best year yet.
2. Reconnect your team to one another
So often the reason we turn up to work is for our colleagues and some of those blockers to connect can be through a felt lack of ‘shared interests. In my time I’ve found we’ve all got something in common and the opportunity is for a team leader to find occasions for those shared interests to be uncovered. What better time than a return to work when we’re full of stories from the holidays? So, I encourage you to find ways for your team to check-in and speak to one another about their break. Encourage an extended settlement into the day. Be a part of those conversations yourself as much as possible.
3. Restate your company vision & values
More than ever, our employees are seeking organisations that reflect their own personal values (Duggan, 2020) so reminding the team of your organisational values is key. It’s done so that that they feel a sense of resonance and this simple measure can
make a significant and almost instant positive impact on individuals. The idea here is to motivate your team through your organisation’s goals.
4. Book a team bonding event
It doesn’t need to be within the first week, but it should be planned for within the first quarter and it should be booked and communicated within the first week. We’ve all been there where we’re rueing the end of the holidays. An exciting offsite (team BBQ, lunch outing, a golf day, lawn bowls etc.) will help the team feel that they’re working towards something. It might seem like an unnecessary expense but just remember this…
89% of workers at companies that support well-being initiatives are more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work (Forbes, 2019)
5. Meet with your people one on one
Dedicate a period of time to each team member. Acknowledge their contribution to the team and organisation prior to the break. Hear from them on what their top 5 professional goals will be for the year and put in place both ways to help achieve this and an appropriate time during the year when this can be reassessed. Encourage your people to Never Give Up on achieving them. Use the occasion to restate your commitment to your team member regarding the ability to discuss anything they feel they need to. This is a way to improve the sense of psychological safety.
I realise that this might seem like a lot to take on early in the year when you yourself have your own deadlines to meet and they’re piling on thick and fast. A quote I share with you that is, I feel, most relevant early in the new year is:
“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and focussed effort” Paul J Meyer
May you make this your best year yet for both you and your team and I encourage you to reach out if I can help in any way. Cheers!
Reconnecting teams after a break is key.
Steve Sharp is a motivational speaker striving to open people’s hidden potential to drive high trust, high performing team cultures. He has over 20 years of experience leading and managing large teams and has facilitated over 500 leadership development workshops. A former Young Executive of the Year by the Australian Financial Review and a father of 4 under 12. For more click here.