Igniting the Year-End Spark: Strategies to Re-Engage and Re-Energize Your Team


As the year winds down, workplaces often face a collective challenge—a noticeable dip in performance and engagement. Picture this: desks that were once buzzing with energy now seem quieter, and motivation levels take a dip as the year-end fatigue sets in. The approach of year-end not only brings seasonal changes but also marks a critical period where employees experience heightened stress and burnout. Leaders, who are not immune to these challenges, grapple with finding impactful strategies to uplift their teams.

Adding to this, the prolonged battle with COVID-19 has introduced a new dimension—COVID-19 fatigue (Falcone, 2023). Characterized by an overwhelming sense of tiredness and dwindling energy (Caldwell et al., 2019), it's a product of the abrupt shifts in routines and work dynamics over the past years. The transition from full-time office work to remote setups and now hybrid models has disrupted the conventional work rhythm.

In navigating this intricate landscape, reenergizing and motivating your team at the end of the year becomes paramount. This blog unfolds deliberate and practical approaches to reignite productivity, boost morale, by enhancing employee engagement. We'll explore actionable strategies to tackle the year-end slump and set the stage for a motivated and rejuvenated workforce.

1. Re-align and focus your team

According to an insightful article by Connecteam (Stacey, 2023), a simple yet powerful technique involves investing time and effort into communicating your company's core values, vision, and goals. Teams that share these values and work toward common objectives cultivate an emotional connection to the company and its brand. This connection allows leaders to seamlessly re-align their team with the organizational purpose. Moreover, it equips employees to navigate through minor setbacks, understanding what truly matters for the team and its objectives.

To implement this strategy effectively:

  • Set a Weekly Value Focus: Challenge your team to embody one core value of the company each week.
  • Foster Value Advocacy: Encourage team members to advocate for the value they resonate with the most and share why it is meaningful to them.
  • Challenge Perceptions: Prompt your team to explore the value they resonate with the least and actively practice it, encouraging personal growth and new perspectives.
  • Establish a Vision Connection: Dedicate time to discuss the team's goals and vision, creating a profound connection to the objectives, without adding unnecessary pressure to achieve them.

2. Active Listening

In the rush to meet deadlines and achieve our goals, we often find ourselves fully immersed in our tasks, unintentionally overlooking the pressures our colleagues may be facing. For instance, as the year comes to a close, the pressure to meet sales targets can blind us to the significance of seemingly unrelated activities, such as HR check-ins.

However, by actively engaging in attentive listening and comprehending the rationale behind these activities, we uncover opportunities that might have otherwise remained unnoticed. This offers a chance to learn, connect, and support our team in effectively navigating their challenges. For instance, a brief HR check-in can become an opportunity to rekindle team connections, alleviating the feeling of isolation during high-pressure periods.

Here are practical ways to cultivate active listening skills:

  • Grasp the WHY: Whenever faced with a request or engaging with colleagues, strive to comprehend the underlying motivations by attentively listening to their thought process.
  • Challenge Your Isolation: Set a goal to have a 10 or 15-minute coffee break with a colleague, focusing on getting to know them beyond work-related matters. This simple practice can lead to new learnings and strengthen relationships.
  • Pose Thoughtful Questions: Active listening opens the door for thoughtful questioning. These questions often stimulate fresh ideas, build upon existing concepts, and create opportunities for personal and professional growth.

3. Prioritize Employee Wellbeing for Rejuvenation

During demanding work periods, our immediate response is often to cut back on essential self-care practices—sleep, exercise, nutritious meals, and spending time with loved ones. We may become overly engrossed in our work, leading to burnout, or conversely, disengage and fall into a productivity slump, exacerbating stress.

Neglecting employee wellbeing in the workplace has far-reaching consequences—a decline in engagement, heightened stress levels, and increased absenteeism. As Dutta (2023) elucidates, there exists a direct correlation between employee wellness and their performance and productivity.

To combat the end-year downturn and breathe new life into your team, consider these actionable steps to enhance their wellbeing:

  • Mindful Breaks: Gauge your team's interest in integrating mindful moments into their routine. Set aside 30 minutes each week, during which everyone silences their phones, allowing the team to pause, breathe, and recalibrate.
  • Promote Regular Breaks: Encourage your team to take brief breaks, emphasizing that these breaks should not be mere moments to mindlessly scroll on their phones. Instead, suggest activities like a short walk or spending time outdoors to rejuvenate.
  • Tailor Support to Individual Needs: Engage your team in a dialogue about what would best support their wellbeing. Collaborate with HR or the wellness department to devise and implement a tailored plan that can truly make a difference.

4. Acknowledge effort and success

Never underestimate the power of positive feedback (Miles, 2022)! Simple yet effective, the mere recognition of a team member’s effort is enough to bring a breath of fresh air into the room. Recognizing when a team member has worked hard, even if they were not as successful as expected, is crucial to boost morale and build ownership within the team.

Here are some practical steps on how to acknowledge effort and success:

  • Have a weekly champion: Recognize the weekly efforts put in by your team, like the person who volunteered to pitch and idea to management. Create a sense of ownership and excitement to take responsibility.
  • Celebrate all wins: At the end of the year, each small win leads to the overall victory. Simply stating – Good job and explaining why it is a good job, enhances the teams understanding of what is expected of them, and motivates them to do better.
  • Say thank you: Appreciating one another makes your team feel welcomed, supported and seen. Not every week has to be ground-breaking, at times the mere act of showing up and giving your best is enough.

5. Cut some slack

There is no better way to put it than Matt (n.d) did in his article on re-energizing your team, he stated: “ When we punctuate periods of drive with rest, it rejuvenates us.”. Clear and concise, your team needs a break, and you need to create a space for them to take it.

When we constantly emphasise and obsess on pushing ourselves, we can push ourselves beyond the limit right into burnout, into disengagement. Create a space where your team knows the value of rest, and lead by example. As a leader, you need to modell what you preach, and as you are human like the rest of your team, you too need rest.

Advocate for rest by:

  • Advocating for rest: Discuss a team break when a major project has been completed.
  • Plan-out vacation time: Have a team discussion on who wants to take leave and when, so that the team can plan their rest accordingly, and it takes the pressure off a team member to wonder – will my leave be approved, who else will go on leave, will I need to do 3 people’s job as they’re all out of office?
  • Stop nit-picking: Stop hyper focusing on every mistake, give your team the space they need to do their best.

 6. Have some fun, have a laugh

Nothing helps lighten the mood than having a good laugh with your teammates, you do not need to take everything so seriously. Sometimes all it takes to break the stiffness of the workplace is a good joke (“9 Things to Do Right Now to Motivate Your Team | LiquidPlanner”, n.d.)!

By Wilmari Horn


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