New year, new me: how to manage post-festive staff turnover

If you’re worried new year’s resolutions may result in a mass exodus of your staff, it’s time to take action. Here’s how to halt post-festive turnover.

It’s the dawn of a new year, and your offices are looking a bit more empty than usual. Perhaps a number of your staff are still away for the holidays. Or, maybe you’ve simply fallen victim to post-festive staff turnover. 

In fact, as we write this, the top three Twitter trends in the UK are currently, ‘#jobsearch’, ‘#newyearnewjob’ and ‘#firstdayback’ (many of which are, shall we say, less than positive).

Your business may be refreshed and ready to boom for a new and productive year, but it’s clear your employees are still reeling from the festivities.

Some may be suffering from the “holiday blues”, leaving you with employees that are exhausted, stressed, relieved the season is over: and struggling to get back in gear and up to productivity.  

According to a Healthline survey, 44% of people say that they are stressed during the holidays, with more than 18% reporting that they’re “very stressed.” 

At the same time, we tend to see a surge in New Year’s resolutions: individuals looking to the coming twelve months and making plans or setting personal goals and objectives, including… getting a new job.

‘Find a new job’ marks as one of the top ten resolutions: 16% of staff pledge to find a new role each year.

As any manager will testify, it’s a costly loss when a member of staff leaves. Estimates from different surveys put the figure at anywhere from $15,000 to 6-9 months of the staff members’ salary in recruitment and training costs, alongside lost productivity and output while getting a replacement up to speed.

More scarily still, an estimated 75% of the causes for staff turnover are preventable. (Work Institute)

So, what can you do to reduce stress, kick-start staff mojo, and preserve employee retention after the holiday season?

work life balance

Work-life balance: is your business getting it right?

27% of employee will leave their job within two years if employers don’t address work-life balance concerns. How can you support staff without sacrificing productivity and revenue growth?

5 ways to manage post-festive staff turnover

It’s no surprise that holding on to unhappy employees can prove to be 10x more difficult than holding on to happy ones. The top causes for staff turnover, research tells us, include:

  • Career development (22%)
  • Work-life balance (12%)
  • Managers’ behavior (11%)
  • Compensation and benefits (9%) and
  • Well-being (9%)

With the holidays are over, employees no longer have the prospect of time off as a barrier between them and stress. Getting that fire burning within your staff will be a harder task than ever. Keeping that in mind, here are the best ways to manage your post-festive staff turnover.

#1. Tap into their ‘new year, new me’ drive

Staff new year’s resolutions and career goals don’t need to be a threat. In fact, they may be an opportunity.

Tapping into renewed staff focus and motivation at the start of the year can address that primary reason for leaving – career development – while also supporting your wider business goals.

What are your organization’s objectives for the year? How about your team, department, or even other areas of the business?

What about your individual employees? Where do they see themselves in six, twelve months or long-term? What support, skills or training do they need to get themselves to that point?

Scheduling staff reviews to discuss these points will help identify where those two different sets of priorities align and complement one another.

set some end of year goals to reduce staff turnover
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Perhaps there are opportunities elsewhere in the business that appeal to your staff; or there are objectives for the year that they can play a central role in achieving, taking them to the next level in their role. Or perhaps there are future long-term ventures which, with the right training or support, could satisfy their desire for professional development.

Show your staff that they have a solid position in your team goals and match their vision to your business direction. Then, develop your staff’s short and long term goals to increase the likelihood that they will stick around to achieve them. This not only boosts retention, but it also provides the much-needed push your staff need to deliver their best performance.

#2 Revisit your flexible working policies

Work-life balance has been a hot topic for several years now; the need to offer staff protected boundaries between work and home life is now backed by considerable research.

Staff who feel they have good work-life balance are more productive, engaged, loyal to their organization, and advocates of their organization’s brand. They’re also healthier, happier, and less prone to absenteeism. What’s not to like?

89 per cent of workers consider flexible working to be a key motivator to their productivity.


If you don’t already have formal policies in place to protect staff work-life balance, it’s time to draw them up. Tried-and-tested initiatives include:

  • Flexible working: the consistent top-ranker, offering flexible working hours, opportunities for remote working/telecommuting or even job-sharing are all ways to protect staff work-life balance. If you don’t already have a policy in place, you’re falling behind: and it could cost you top talent.
Giving staff the freedom and autonomy to work from anywhere is a powerful retention tool and way to attract top talent. Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash.
  • Address ‘always on’ cultures: many organizations continue to see an embedded and toxic culture of being always on and accessible, even after leaving the office. This one requires a clear policy and leading by example with a top-down initiative. Ensure middle managers aren’t sending and answering emails out of hours, or expecting staff to do the same; consider auto-responders out of hours for staff, and make the boundaries clear to all.
  • Paid time off: the US consistently falls behind the rest of the western world when it comes to the provision – and uptake of – time off. However, 37% of staff would prefer paid time off more than a pay rise and it’s associated with improved business performance, employee engagement, better health, and more. Despite this, 54% of US workers don’t use all their vacation days – fearing they’ll look replaceable, or stating they had too much work or couldn’t get cover. Those are cultural issues that need addressing at an organizational level: for example, through internal campaigns that highlight the benefits, ensuring adequate cover, and effective middle management that assures staff paid time off is not a luxury, but essential to staff well-being.
  • Address ‘time-stealers’: Evaluate the everyday processes and activities in work that steal time or reduce productivity. Your digital employee experience – how effective, usable and useful your digital tools are – is a strong starting point. Automate paper-based or time-consuming processes, and look at the time wasted in unproductive meetings, on outdated reporting processes, or seeking out knowledge and information. This enables your staff to get work done – and get home on time.
  • Look at overtime and sickness policies: if you’re proactively promoting or rewarding the culture of overworking or, worse still, coming into the office when sick, you’ve got a recipe for disaster. There’s a balance to be reached between fair remuneration for hours worked, and encouraging staff to go beyond their core hours on a regular basis. Individuals who feel under pressure to clock in when under the weather are unproductive, pose a risk to other employees, take longer to recuperate and ultimately, will have poor work-life balance.

If you already have strong work-life balance policies and practices in place, new year is the optimum time to launch an internal communications campaign to promote and raise awareness of them. Remind staff of the opportunities and value of the options you have: it will help prevent a mass exodus by those who feel a slave to work.

work life balance

Work-life balance: is your business getting it right?

27% of employee will leave their job within two years if employers don’t address work-life balance concerns. How can you support staff without sacrificing productivity and revenue growth?

#3: Encourage employee-manager dialogue

We’ve all heard the old saying: people don’t leave companies, they leave managers. This does not necessarily mean that your managers are doing things to actively drive away your staff. Instead, it could mean they aren’t doing enough to keep them.

76% of employees say their manager creates the culture at work and 58% said they have left a job because of their manager.


Managers are an organization’s bridge to its employees. They are responsible for guiding, handling and supervising their teams. However, when the needs of their employees slip past their radar, it often opens up feelings of dissatisfaction and unappreciation. 

employee-employer dialogue in the office

Nearly 80 percent of workers will look for another job if they don’t feel like they’re valued where they are. Listening to your staff plays a vital role in counteracting this possibility. 

Incorporate more employee-employer dialogue into your new year plans. Make sure that your managers understand the impact the holiday season can have on the stress and productivity levels of your staff. Support from supervisors and collogues have a strong correlation to overall job satisfaction. Yet, according to Mental Health America,  Only 36 percent of respondents felt they could rely on their supervisors for support.

To change this trend of disregard and high staff turnover, managers must understand and be aware of the mental states of their teams. Part of that awareness of listening to staff, watching for signs of stress, lowered productivity and signs of lowered morale. An employee who feels supported and heard will be staying on your team for years to come.

#4. Put recognition and benefits on the comms menu

Compensation is critical to employees, but it can’t stand alone. You can ward off high levels of disgruntlement or disengagement by ensuring an all-round positive employee experience that includes other forms of reward: namely, your additional benefits, recognition, and appreciation.

Are your staff aware of the different benefits available to them? Are they capitalizing on them, or do you need to re-evaluate your offering? Do they know how to access them? A simple internal comms campaign that highlights the what, where and why can remind staff of what’s great about working for your organization.

offer employees perks to increase retention
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Let’s not forget the value of the non-material, though. Recognition and appreciation are huge contributors to employee satisfaction and, in turn, retention.

22% of senior decision-makers don’t think that regular recognition and thanking employees at work has a big influence on staff retention; 70% of employees say that motivation and morale would improve “massively” with managers saying thank you more

Source: Reward Gateway

There’s a trend towards the close of the year to reflect back, give thanks, celebrate success. Come January, we’re all looking forward. Recognition slips to the bottom of the priority list – just when your staff need it most.

Consider a seasonal recognition campaign or competition – asking staff to nominate peers, or managers to nominate staff – and ensure those nominations and reasons are made public. Have a chat with line managers and reiterate the importance of a simple, ‘thanks – you’re doing a great job’.

A simple act of appreciation will remind your staff that they are valued – and encourage them to stay.

work life balance

Work-life balance: is your business getting it right?

27% of employee will leave their job within two years if employers don’t address work-life balance concerns. How can you support staff without sacrificing productivity and revenue growth?

#5: Launch an internal well-being program

Many of your staff will already be undertaking their own wellness initiatives as part of the ‘new year, new me’ focus. Whether it’s Dry January, Veganuary, or ‘RED [Run Every Day] January’, there are a huge host of different campaigns out there tapping into our collective desire to live healthier, happier lives.

Ride on the phenomenon with an internal campaign that promotes your existing (or new!) wellbeing initiatives. This may include:

  • Internal wellness activities or initiatives: whether it’s the weekly yoga class, discounted gym membership, the staff running group or the Cycle to Work Scheme – highlight those parts of your employee package that support healthier living.
  • Ensure staff are aware of your EAP (Employee Assistance Program), if you have one. Mental health is critical to overall wellbeing and access to support across a range of issues can play a huge role in overall staff happiness.
  • Bring back breaks: how many of your staff are sat eating their lunch at their desk, multi-tasking while reading that latest report or completing a piece of work? 20% of US workers worry their bosses won’t think they’re hardworking if they take regular lunch breaks. However, regular breaks away from the desk improves productivity, concentration, creativity; it reduces stress and better still, research shows 81% of employees who take a daily lunch break have a strong desire to be an active member in their company, and score higher on a range of engagement metrics including job satisfaction, likelihood to continue working at the same company, and likelihood to recommend their employer to others. It’s a win-win.
  • Educate and support healthier food choices: this may be as simple as providing fruit rather than biscuits in the break room, or perhaps starting a recipe-sharing or restaurant recommendation thread on your internal comms channels for staff to get inspired.
  • Focus on mental health alongside physical wellbeing: this can include raising awareness through focused campaigns, signposting to relevant support and services, ensuring staff are aware of your EAP and wellness programs, and providing proper training for middle managers on recognizing and managing mental wellbeing in their staff.

Mental illness and substance abuse are estimated to cost employers $225.8 billion every year, due to decreased performance resulting from absenteeism or lost productivity.

Now more than ever, organizations have a central role and obligation towards the holistic wellbeing of their staff. With 1/3 of our lives spent in the workplace, employees will look for – and expect – to partner an employer who supports their goals both in and outside the office. Those organizations that fail to realize the importance of a 360-degree employee experience will see retention rates plummet.

New year, same staff

Ultimately your goal for the new year is to successfully transition your employees out of holiday mode and into their futures at your organization. While this can be a stressful time for all involved, the tips above can provide some relief and help increase your retention rates.

work life balance

Work-life balance: is your business getting it right?

27% of employee will leave their job within two years if employers don’t address work-life balance concerns. How can you support staff without sacrificing productivity and revenue growth?