Friday, December 19, 2008

Ten HR Ideas to Beat the Year End Blahs

For many people, the end of the year brings on a nasty case of the blues. According to Monique Rissen Harrisberg of The Stress Clinic, "Most nervous break-downs, burn – outs, illness and depression occur just before Christmas."

This can spill over into the workplace and create a slowed down, negative environment just when you are looking for a fresh, bright start for the new year.

The good news is that motivational strategies can be implemented easily and cost effectively by almost any organization. Things like communication, thank-yous and recognition cost virtually nothing but provide more reward and motivation than expensive company gifts.

Here is my list of low-cost, high value motivation strategies for year end 2008.

1) Involve the CEO and other high profile executives. Employees in the lower ranks rarely get to interact with the CEO so when they do it's exciting and meaningful.
  • Have the CEO send a heartfelt thank-you email to all employees.
  • Have a CEO/Executives holiday visit to each department (without criticizing the cleanliness, organization, etc) to say "Hi" and shake hands with all EEs.
  • How about a CEO/Executives New Year Breakfast, barbecue or cookie break where the leaders cook/bbq/bake for the staff?
  • Provide an invitation to each employee to visit with the CEO sometime in 2009.
  • Create a funny but inspirational video starring the CEO and other senior leaders that show them as human (and fallible.)
2) Create a special 2008 wrap-up letter or website. Highlight the successes for the year, recognize individual's contributions, include photos (events, people, customers).

3) Organize a "bright future" meeting. Have a charismatic company leader discuss how the future is bright and/or what the company needs to do to create a bright future. Include goals and plans. Don't be afraid to ask for the employees' help (which is surprisingly motivational) and describe the vision of what things will be like when they reach the future goals. If times are difficult now, focus on the light at the end of the tunnel and make sure everyone sees that it is real and attainable.

4) Thank employees for their efforts. Have supervisors write up and submit a "Thanks to _____ for ______" about each one of their direct reports (so there is one for every employee in the company) and them publish 1 or more per day on the company internet or intranet website.

5) Have a contest! Create small or large goals or activities. Everyone can win. Winners get raffle tickets. The more wins, the more tickets. Have three prizes with the grand prize being something really special or valuable.

6) Setup group community service activities that employees can participate in together. Allow employees to participate during work hours or after-hours.

7) Have the CEO blog about the accomplishments of various employees. Start with low level employees.

8) Start a mentoring program for 2009 to assist with career development, guidance, problem-solving, networking and support.

9) Start a corporate social networking program to allow employee's to easily connect with each other, share information, collaborate, thank each other, offer kudos, etc.
Resource: Mentor Scout - Talent Networking Edition

10) Ask employees to provide innovative ideas for 2009. Use an online suggestion type program so employees can share and expand on ideas.

11) Setup "Lunch and Learns" on work and non-work topics. Ask employees to sign up to teach a session on their area of expertise or something for which they have a special talent or interest.

The above are some ideas to kickstart your own brainstorming. I recommend that you put together a team of creative employees both inside and outside of HR to come up with your own customized ideas. Wouldn't it be nice to go into 2009 with big smiles on your employees' faces?


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