The New Year brings about aspirations for eating better, losing weight, and paying down debt. In the workplace, this may show up in fewer fast food lunches and more Mason jar salads in the shared fridge; it can also lead to an incredible increase in motivation for everyone from your sales teams to your front-desk phone rep.
44% of Americans say they’re likely to make a New Year’s resolution, with 68% reporting that they were able to keep up their resolution for at least part of the year. That’s impressive! But behavior can be hard to change, and setbacks are inevitable.
While resolutions are typically personal goals, there’s ample reason for companies to invest in resolution success. A happy, healthy team is not only more productive, but also more likely to stay with their employer.
So what happens when those best intentions go by the wayside, and that inevitable cycle of failure hits your workforce? Is it possible to reignite the flames? Here’s some sage advice from professionals on just what HR managers and workplace leaders should do to avoid the “crash and burn” syndrome that can occur when resolutions don’t go as planned.
Many managers already meet with team members individually, but these conversations typically stick to work-related goals and progress. While a level of professionalism is required for manager-employee relationships, checking in on personal progress can also yield benefits for employees. Managers can make arrangements to help their team members reach goals, like flexible scheduling to allow for morning workouts.
“One on one meetings are a great way to help teams stay engaged with minimal time involved,” says HR leader Renae Nelson, sHRBP. “Once a month, 5-minute meetings can help keep kudos and issues at the surface to resolve and acknowledge quickly.”
By balancing the tone, it’s possible to keep workers on the path to their resolutions without becoming too critical. Listen, acknowledge, answer any concerns, and encourage.
Another way to keep the can-do attitude going past the first of February is through support and mentorship groups. The studies prove that mentoring can be a highly effective method of sharing skills and helping younger or less-experienced employees meet strategic goals. Plus, these groups have the added benefit of giving younger employees a chance to develop leadership skills in a low-risk environment.
These groups can range from large support groups to two-person, peer mentoring. Nelson suggests that leaders identify. “This can be done quickly and will have immediate results in boosting morale,” says Nelson. The cross-training can be as formal or informal as you wish, but just be sure it’s done consistently and for a long enough timeframe to have an impact. Managers can help spur on the meetings by providing a meeting space, light refreshments, or access to supplies, as needed. Just make sure your team members know you support and encourage the initiative.
According to Marist, health-related resolutions are far and away the most popular, so there’s no better time to remind employees of perks like discounted gym memberships or health resources that they may be overlooking.
This may also mean introducing new incentive programs for very specific goals that benefit both employees and their employers. General Electric revealed in 2004 that they had three times as many workers quit smoking when a cash reward was offered up. While smoking is a personal vice, it can affect the workplace in insurance premium costs and productivity loss.
We love to emphasize January 1st as “the” time to get our lives back on track. Nothing is preventing us from taking charge of our lives at other times, however, and a habit of setting (and achieving) goals throughout the year is a healthier attitude to take toward personal growth. Relieve some pressure on employees by reminding them that a setback in February does not mean a total failure.
Keith Enochs, PHR, SHRM-CP, suggests that those with a goal to accomplish not wait until January 1st to take action. Likewise, if you didn’t get the right goal set the first time, it’s not necessary to call it quits until the next time around. “Make a resolution to yourself every day, even if it’s something small,” he says. “It isn’t about the size of the resolution; it’s about keeping a promise to yourself.”
Any time, and in any amount, improvement should be embraced and celebrated. Human resource managers and leaders in the workplace can help communicate healthier versions of the New Year’s hype. Model goal setting and change in a way that’s not so frantic or fad-based. Your workers will sense that it’s OK to take things at their own pace and will be happier as a result. Enochs reminds us that “progress and growth don’t come from grandiose promises but through small, deliberate action every day.” Responsible resolutions start from the top down. Let your workers see you achieve small steps to bigger things, and they most certainly will follow.