Get your 2024 off to a positive start in summary:

  • Coming back after the Christmas break can sometimes be a bit of a struggle. Here, we look at how HR teams can help businesses make a positive start to 2024.
  • Looking for warning signs within the workforce, highlighting the importance of communication and personal responsibility are key to kicking the new year off on a positive footing.
  • In addition, HR teams should encourage praise when it’s due, explain the big picture and raise aspirations for the year ahead.

Ah, the post-Christmas blues. Gone are the festive celebrations and cozy holiday vibes, and back is the hustle and bustle of the work grind.

Shifting from holiday bliss to work mode after the Christmas period can feel like a rollercoaster. On the one hand, you’ll likely be wanting to kick the new year off in a positive state of mind, ready for the challenges of the year ahead. But, on the other, you may experience the ‘post holiday blues’ and feel just a bit ‘blah’ about everything!

The thing is though, it’s likely you won’t be the only person feeling this way. As a result, the start of the new year presents an unmissable opportunity for HR and senior management to look at what they can do to set their business up for success and growth in the months ahead, and shake off those pesky post-holiday blues.

Get your 2024 off to a positive start Cezanne HR blog

But, we’re not just talking about those typical new year ‘resolutions’ – which we all know are likely to be broken before we reach Pancake Day! Rather, thinking about how you can create the long-lasting habits or behaviours that will fuel success. For example, In her book ‘Confidence’, Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter argues that it’s positive relationships that set the stage for positive outcomes.

So, with that in mind, here’s some of her suggestions for what business leaders and HR managers must do to start building the momentum for success.

Getting 2024 off to a positive start

Take the company’s temperature

Looking at what’s going on around you and taking the temperature of the business is an important first step. In her book, Moss-Kanter highlights the universal warning signs of ‘change in the wrong direction’. These include a decline in communication and an inward focus among employees, as well as a growth in criticism and blame and people becoming increasingly isolated in their roles.

If you’re aware that internal rivalries are springing up, poor performances being routinely accepted and people stopping taking the initiative, take action! With the right approach, it’s possible to nip negativity in the bud and shift to a positive, success-oriented culture.

Keep the lines of communication open

Make sure everyone knows what’s going on in the business and talk to people openly and honestly about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Don’t just focus on top-down dialogue. Make it easy for people across the company to ask questions, talk to each other, share information and solve problems together.

There’s plenty of technology available to facilitate this more collaborative style of working – including the latest generation of HR software platforms. So, make it your business to find out what’s available and how it can help you communicate more effectively.

Emphasise personal responsibility

It’s easy to get caught up in a vicious circle of everyone blaming everyone else when something goes wrong or targets are not being achieved. Refuse to listen to attacks on others and encourage each person to take individual responsibility for his or her part of the problem.

Praise where praise is due…

Acknowledgement of a job well done or even a simple thank you can go a long way. Offer frequent public praise to those who are meeting high standards and doing a good job. Equally, you need to identify those who aren’t performing well and help them find ways to improve their competencies and approach to their job.

An effective way to help a praise culture flourish is to introduce a peer-to-peer recognition scheme. These are brilliantly simple methods of fostering positive workplace cultures and supportive working environments. They’re also vital in improving rates of staff attraction and retention, and enhancing employees’ sense of job satisfaction. Read more about them here.

… and reward initiative

Employees on the front line are best placed to see new and different ways of doing things. Encourage people at all levels of the business to be innovative and give them the time and resources to work on new ideas.

Explain the big picture

Stressing common purpose is a great way to unite people and get everyone pulling in the same direction. Make sure everyone understands what the business is trying to achieve and can see how their personal contribution can make a difference.

Help each other

In her book, Moss Kanter suggests that reducing inequities and ‘status’ differences can do much to create a positive environment. Actively encourage more senior, experienced managers to mentor others and make sure that learning and development opportunities are available not just to the chosen few.

Make sure resources are distributed as evenly as possible so that particular teams or departments don’t feel overlooked – or explain openly why resource-related decisions have been made. Create a feeling of unity by encouraging people to share services and embark on joint projects.

Raise aspirations

An attitude of ‘anything is possible’ can do much to foster success. As a business, don’t be afraid to talk about the big goals or raise the prospect of competing with larger, more established companies. Use the small wins to show that there is potential for bigger successes in the future.

Set stretch goals

Set employees realistic stretch goals and support people in achieving them with

appropriate coaching, mentoring or learning and development. If you involve people in setting their own performance goals, they are much more likely to buy into them and work enthusiastically towards them.

Reinforce the positives

Lastly, every business will have its ‘nay-sayers’. The people who are closed to new ideas and insist that new approaches will never work. Try and ignore the voices of negativity and constantly reinforce the positive. Brushing up on so-called ‘Nudge Theory’ is one way you can indirectly shift behaviours and attitudes for the better. Show people that with the right attitude, change for the better is always possible.


Author bio

Paul Bauer is the Head of Content at Cezanne HR. He’s worked within the employee benefits, engagement and HR sectors for over four years, and has won multiple industry awards for his work.

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