While the end of the financial year is a far more important 12-monthly landmark for businesses, the end of the calendar year looms larger in your employees’ diaries, and provides a perfect opportunity to reflect, refresh and make changes.
With a positive attitude and improvement in mind, these are our essential resolutions for businesses to make for 2017, focusing on ensuring a good year for your organisation, and for your employees.
Work smarter, not harder
It may be a common, almost overused buzzworthy saying, but there really is merit in encouraging smarter working.
Hard work – nose to the grindstone, eyes glued to the screen, processing as much as possible – isn’t always a good thing. It promotes quantity over quality, is boring and demoralising for employees doing the same things over and over again, or running themselves ragged, and doesn’t achieve the best results.
By working smarter, employees can produce as much, if not more, than they would by grinding away, and will likely be happier for it!
So what does working smarter mean? A big part of it involves understanding what bodies need to stay in peak performance mode.
You’ve heard of circadian rhythms, which govern when we wake and sleep. But within that cycle, there are also ultradian rhythms, which govern our energy and focus. This means there’s a biological reason behind why we tend to get tired and unmotivated after an hour and a half to two hours of working on the same thing – it’s not just being lazy!
For the new year, allow and encourage your employees to take breaks every two hours – for the sake of ten minutes away from the screen, they’ll come back refreshed and ready to go again.
Mixing up the type of work someone is doing can also help to bring new energy to each new task – so if you have employees stuck in a repetitive rut, make sure 2017 sees them enjoying a bit more variety. They’ll be more productive for it.
Where possible and practical, organisations should also make the most of cloud computing and remote working technologies that allow staff greater flexibility over how and where they work. A new policy for 2017 could give staff one work-from-home day per month, to be taken at the time of their choosing.
Delegate for the right reasons
Delegating can be a way for lazy managers to ditch some work onto their underlings – usually work they don’t want to do themselves. Or it can be a way to give an employee extra responsibility, add some variety to their workload, and encourage them to grow. The latter is, obviously, the right reason for delegating!
Gaining more experience and getting a taste of roles that are higher up the ladder is an essential motivator – particularly for young people looking to build a career. But in a recent Deloitte survey, 71% of young people said they were unhappy with the way their leadership skills were being developed.
Adding extra layers of middle management for the sake of promotions is impractical, but if you are aiming to encourage some leadership and growth from promising employees, then why not start 2017 by instead giving them ownership of a larger project, instigating team leaders across a larger department, or introducing some management training?
But if you’re going to delegate, do it properly – micromanaging employees who are trying to develop their own skills and leadership style undermines trust and will likely just frustrate. Check in, step in when needed, but otherwise take a light touch.
Take a holistic approach to sales incentives
Are you aiming for better sales in the year ahead? If your sales team are flagging even while working that little bit smarter, it may be time to offer a little extra encouragement.
As we’ve already discussed, encouraging the nose to the grindstone method isn’t always the most effective, so try not to view sales incentives as tokens you put into an employee machine to make them up their output. Instead, incentives should be part of the fabric of your organisation.
Use them to help employees set goals that help them to know exactly where they stand in terms of what’s expected, rather than setting them up as targets to chase. Associate them with company values to create awareness and drive engagement. Encourage peer-to-peer recognition that allows employees to nominate valued co-workers for additional rewards.
Finally, ensure these rewards come with adequate recognition of the efforts employees have put in to achieve them. Give awards publicly, with a personal thank you from the recipient’s superior – whether a line manager or above – to acknowledge employees who go the extra mile.
A benefit to taking this approach at the beginning of January means you can monitor performance throughout the year, encouraging a bigger push towards December, when the effects of the approaching holidays kick in. You can read more about this in our whitepaper Work Mode vs. Holiday Mode: The Guide to Festive Incentives and Rewards.
Stop making do
Finally, a simple one: If it’s broke, fix it. Use the changing of the year to clean your house of the things that aren’t working. Whether it’s a printer, a hiring strategy, a sales method, a supplier, a contractor, or the brand of coffee in the break room, stop making do with things that aren’t the right fit for you and your business. It may take time, effort, and money – but replacing faulty parts is always the best bet in the long run.
Can we help?
If you’re looking to change the way you provide staff rewards, benefits and sales incentives, are looking to boost employee engagement, or want to improve employee recognition within your organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to see how we can help.
It’s currently very important to start thinking about employee benefits in particular as, after April 2017, the rules around tax-free salary sacrifice benefit programs are changing. In order to make the most of the current arrangement for your employees throughout 2017, you will need to have a program in place before 2017 – read more about the changes here.