Lancer Insurance
Friday, May 24, 2024

BY AMY COOLEY

The holiday season is a busy one, full of visits and gatherings, lights and decorations, celebrations and anticipation. And if we’re being honest, it is a stressful and emotionally taxing time for many. But when that season passes and the day dawns on a new year, it is natural to feel a sense of letdown, coming down from a peak of energy and emotional intensity—and that feeling pervades our offices as well as our homes. Those of us in the northern hemisphere couple this with the shorter daylight hours, cooler temperatures, and darkness of the winter season, and the “winter blues” stubbornly return for even the cheeriest among us. It’s really no surprise that study after study finds that January and February are the least productive months of the year in the office.

amy cooley While this lull may coincide with a slower pace in the industry as a whole (unless you’re in a snowbird destination), it’s still important to start a new year off on the right foot. And it is equally important to recognize the challenges your team may be experiencing this time of year. Fostering a supportive work environment and prioritizing employee well-being will help you to combat the blues and maintain morale and productivity. In this article, we’ll share some strategies aimed at mitigating the impact of January and February’s productivity lull.

1. Create a Positive Environment
Make this an opportunity to renew things around your facility, like applying a fresh coat of paint, adding a little color, cleaning the windows, or tidying up the garage. Redecorate your break area or add some comfortable furniture. Consider bringing in plants, posting inspiring quotes, or adding brightly colored decorations to create a positive atmosphere.

2. Plan Fun Activities
After the excitement of the holidays and all the get-togethers end, the dreariness of winter can impact many. Organize team-building activities or social events to bring employees together. This can include team lunches, games, or other engaging activities to boost morale. A slower dispatch grid may equal a good opportunity to bring the whole team together. In fact, many operators in the industry choose to schedule their annual “holiday” party during this time.

When that season passes and the day dawns on a new year, it is natural to feel a sense of letdown, coming down from a peak of energy and emotional intensity ...
3. Set Realistic Goals for the New Year
Do some planning to make it a great year! Establish realistic and achievable goals for your operation—they can be big or small, companywide, or team-based. Remember to make them measurable, purposeful, and actionable.

Get your team involved in brainstorming and goal setting. Not only will their participation drive buy-in, but the activity itself is a great opportunity for engagement. Having new plans and goals can create a sense of unified purpose and motivation and develop a forward focus.

4. Process Improvements and New Initiatives
Goal setting often goes hand in hand with process improvements and new initiatives. While the creative juices are flowing with your team, dig into processes that could be more efficient or more effective. Look into opportunities for market growth and additional service offerings. Or maybe you’ll discover that your market approach needs to tighten up and focus on the things you do best. Your team is on the front lines: Value their input and listen to their ideas.

5. Acknowledge Achievements
Take time to recognize and celebrate the achievements of individuals and teams. Highlighting the past year’s successes can help shift the focus from post-holiday blues to positive accomplishments.

And as you embark on the new year and new goals, remember to acknowledge and celebrate small victories and milestones. This can be as simple as a shout-out in a team meeting or keeping a progress chart on the team bulletin board.

6. Provide Wellness Support
Promote wellness initiatives, such as fitness challenges, mindfulness programs, or a virtual workshop on stress management strategies. You could even bring in a massage therapist for a day or two to offer relaxing chair massages for your in-house team during break time, or chauffeurs between trips. It’s an inexpensive way to relieve some tension for staff, and it isn’t the same old pizza party (although that can be appreciated too).

Encouraging open communication can also help. Ask your managers and team leaders to have regular one-on-ones with team members to address their concerns or challenges.

Check to see if your health insurance offers employee assistance programs that provide resources for mental health support, counseling, and stress management. Physical and mental well-being are crucial for combating post-holiday blues.

7. Offer Refresher and Development Training
This time of year is a great one for refreshing current skills and learning new ones. Think chauffeur re-training, CSR call-handling practice, highlighting dispatch software updates ... you name it.

While you’re in training mode, this is an excellent opportunity to engage with team members who might be ready to take the next step. Do you have a chauffeur who’d like to try their hand at reservations, or a CSR who’s ready to learn how to dispatch, or someone who’s got the makings of becoming a team lead? Development opportunities are a win-win for everyone, and there’s no time like the post-holiday quiet season to get started!

Overall, it’s important to nurture a positive culture, ideally one that fosters open communication, collaboration, appreciation, and respect. A supportive environment goes a long way to building engagement and setting the stage for a great, and productive, year.   [CD1223]

Amy Cooley is HR Leader for The LMC Groups. She can be reached at amy@lmcpeople.com.