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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Avoid the post-holiday blues with these 16 positivity strategies

If you want to keep morale high and avoid a slump after the holidays, here’s how to encourage positivity and cheer among your team.

Avoid the post-holiday blues with these 16 positivity strategies
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]

During the holiday season, employees are often excited about seeing their families, taking time off, and relaxing before the start of a new year. It’s difficult, however, to carry this spirit into the new year when employees have to go back to a normal work schedule in January.

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Leaders can take the initiative to change this mindset by doing small things to support employees, such as supporting their personal goals through company-sponsored gym memberships or having more frequent happy hours. To help, Fast Company Executive Board members shared some effective ideas for encouraging cheer and positivity post-holidays and into the new year.

1. ENCOURAGE MAINTENANCE OF HOBBIES.

When asking your team about their time off, listen to what was important to them and encourage them to find their “Brain Space.” Also, encourage hobbies and side-interests. If they did nothing, that also should be celebrated. In order to lead a creative group, they need to know that whatever is important to them is also important to their leaders. This should really be a year-round activity. – Bill Nottingham, Nottingham Spirk

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2. ALLOW EMPLOYEES TO DISCONNECT.

Many organizations observe a disconnect between Christmas and New Year’s Day, where everyone in the entire organization unplugs and there is an expectation that everyone will be off of email and spend that time recharging. That sort of commitment to getting refreshed and providing for employees’ well-being is a very effective way to have employees start the new year fresh and ready to work hard. – Bill Harrod, Ivanti (formerly MobileIron)

3. CELEBRATE ACHIEVEMENTS AND LOOK AHEAD.

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Managers have insights into past performance and future direction of an organization, but forget that this knowledge may not be common among their team. The new year is the perfect time to revitalize positivity and purpose among the team by (a) celebrating the prior year’s collective achievements, and (b) identifying the upcoming year’s goals along with how the team’s efforts contribute to them. – Suchit Tuli, Quantime

4. CONSTANTLY SUPPORT MENTAL HEALTH.

Holiday parties, vacations, and end-of-year bonuses are always welcomed, but the benefits are fleeting. For lasting positive impact, it is recommended for leaders to keep the mental health of their team members in mind. Take steps to ensure your team isn’t being overworked, and that they don’t feel underemployed. Tickle their creativity, and explore ways to keep their zest toward their role alive. – Ido Wiesenberg, Voyantis

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5. LEAD WITH CLEAR COMMUNICATION.

Clear, open communication is especially important heading into a new year. Where is your business headed, and how can each team member be involved in planning for and contributing to the strategy? How did their contributions over the last year make a positive impact? Talking about where you were a year ago and where you’re headed next helps align and motivate everyone toward a shared future. – Jason Cottrell, Myplanet

6. PLAN MORE TEAM BONDING ACTIVITIES THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.

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It’s true—post-holiday, many employees (heck, many humans) fall into the doldrums and can lack motivation. As an employer, give them more of what they enjoyed over the holiday season. Think about a series of happy hours or social events they can look forward to. Implement some process changes that focus people on a mutual goal. Launch a contest. Instill excitement for the future. – Lisa Bichsel, Bichsel Medical Marketing Group

7. CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS IN THE NEW YEAR.

Consider moving your holiday party into the New Year. There are many benefits of doing this—venues are typically cheaper, it creates space in what is a busy month of December, and it gives employees something to look forward to. Celebrating the new year as it kicks off is a great chance to look back and remember the past but be in the present new year looking forward. – Lukas Quanstrom, Ontic

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8. HELP EMPLOYEES ACHIEVE PERSONAL GOALS.

Time off during the holidays and holiday bonuses are always well-received. Beyond that, the new year is a time when people are usually making a lot of personal goals. You could help support your employees in their New Years’ resolutions by purchasing a company gym membership, offering mental health services, or starting a company-wide sports team. – Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP

9. GIVE CREDIT AND RECOGNITION.

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Managers should be grateful and thankful for their team’s dedication and endurance. Credits and recognition should be shared because it takes a village to move mountains. – Steven Moy, Barbarian

10. PROMOTE GRATITUDE.

Create opportunities for gratitude and forward focus to encourage positivity and optimism coming out of the holidays. A new year with new goals grounded in an appreciation for all that we have is a great way to celebrate what we are moving toward and what is possible. – Danielle Paige, Nixon Peabody

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11. SET NEW GOALS.

Set ambitious goals for the team, and be the biggest hype man in your organization. Get that engine going because you as a leader have the power and responsibility to create the mood for everyone else. The thing is that very few people work just to make money. Most of us want to be a part of something bigger, something exciting and challenging. Make it work! – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

12. CONTINUE GIVING POSITIVE GUIDANCE.

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In the New Year, when you’re looking at a fresh, blank slate, use the positive energy from the holidays to lead with confidence all year long. It shouldn’t feel like the Sunday Scaries, rather, managers have a unique opportunity to shift this year into a brand new outlook. Positive guidance for team members is the very definition of leadership and should extend far beyond January 1. – Liza Streiff, Knopman Marks Financial Training

13. CREATE NEW GOALS AS A TEAM.

It’s all about being human. Take things to ground level. Celebrate all the positives from the past year. When focusing on the negatives, speak to solutions and keep them inspirational. Speak clearly about goals for the new year and how the team, together, is going to accomplish those goals. Finally, take time to gather and talk about things other than business. – Richard RB Botto, Stage 32

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14. ENCOURAGE TEAM MEMBERS TO TAKE TIME OFF.

December is often a seasonally slow period for many employers, even if it’s one of the highest revenue-generating months of the year. If you are in a seasonally slow period in December, encouraging your team to take time off and enjoy their holidays is a great way to bring them back refreshed going into the New Year. Moreover, team members are likely to come back both grateful and energized. – Fehzan Ali, Adscend Media LLC

15. RECOGNIZE ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

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The new year offers a time to look ahead, but also to reflect and celebrate past achievements. By recognizing last year’s wins, leaders can show gratitude to their team and positively reinforce success. Companies can also increase motivation by recognizing employees during this time, including through gifts and fun (virtual) work events that build excitement for the year ahead. – Amit Paley, The Trevor Project

16. CREATE A ‘KUDOS’ PROCESS.

Our team is remote-first, which can make it hard to keep up a culture of appreciation. We recently implemented a “kudos” process in our team channel in Slack to recognize team members who go above and beyond to demonstrate a core value. It can mean a lot to be recognized publicly. Sometimes financial incentives are what matters, other times, just being seen and acknowledged is most impactful. – Amaya Weddle, bande

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