Jumpstart a Sluggish New Year
February 02, 2023 | BY Simcha Felder, CPA, MBA
Can you guess which months are the least productive of the year? If the timing of this article doesn’t give it away, you might be surprised to hear that it’s the first two months of the year. A study by the data collaboration software provider Redbooth found that January and February are the least productive months. Cold temperatures and daylight hours that are in short supply seem to cause dreary conditions that impact everyone’s productivity.
Instead of simply bundling up and waiting out the slump, try some new actions to boost productivity in your business or organization. Rae Ringel, president of leadership development consultants The Ringel Group, developed four strategies that can breathe new life into this notoriously gloomy time of year:
The new year is an excellent time to think about introducing new routines, tools, and habits into a team’s culture. The more radical the departure from business-as-usual, the more likely employees are to break old habits and reexamine what brings out their best.
Some ideas include replacing hour-long meetings with 15-minute check-ins. Or setting aside one day a week as a meeting-free zone. Maybe even move to a 4-day work week? Whatever your team’s experiment is, be sure to commit to it for at least a few weeks.
Sometimes the key to success is failing spectacularly and quickly, but then working and changing a solution until it succeeds. The final product or strategy may be significantly different from the starting point, but in the end, the most important thing is that success is achieved.
Consider designating February (or March) as a month when fast failure will be celebrated. Encourage employees to creatively develop large and small ways to improve the organization, so that leaders can crack open underexplored opportunities and spark new thinking. One way to kick off the “fail-fast” month might include business leaders recalling their own most disastrous professional failures and what they learned from them.
Many employees expect some type of monetary gift around the end of the year as a form of appreciation for a year’s work. When leaders surprise their employees with employee recognition moments early in the new year, these gestures can take on greater significance because they don’t feel obligatory. Leaders could frame such gestures as a “thank you in advance” for work to come in the new year. And these acts don’t have to be monumental. Sometimes food-delivery gift cards or other simple gifts can go a long way when they are unexpected.
Reconnecting with What Matters Most
Finally, reconnect your team with what matters most. This may be the customers an organization caters to, the clients it serves, or users of the products it develops. As an example, a law firm might bring in a client whose life was positively affected by the firm’s work. That impactful work wouldn’t have been possible without a lot of team members who may never have heard the client’s name. The idea is for employees to see themselves as essential sparks in the work the organization performs. Reflecting on the new year can ground your team in your organization’s purpose and meaning.
The new calendar year offers an opportunity to shake things up in a meaningful way. You can’t change the weather, the amount of sunlight, or the general lack of enthusiasm, but the suggestions above can help build energy and excitement that can fuel productivity year-round.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, nor should it be relied upon for, legal or tax advice. If you have any specific legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, please consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.