'Ignoring your staff's needs will just frustrate them': Brian Kropp

Brian Kropp, group vice president of Gartner’s HR practice in an interview with HRreview said that trying to prompt employees to work harder during the “January Blues” is not necessarily a bad thing to do, what is a bad move is to ignore your staff’s needs completely which will just frustrate them further.

HRreview: Do you think companies are prepared for the “January Blues”?

Mr Kropp: For the most part, no they are not. They have spent the year wrapping up big strategic plans. They have not spent time on focusing on what is good for themselves and their employees.

Attempting to encourage your employees to work harder during January is not a bad move, but ignoring your staff’s needs will just frustrate them further.  Worker’s engagement increases when a company listens to them. We worked with a company that noticed that most of its staff were coming in late. They found out this was due to construction works delaying their employee’s commute to work.

So they gave their staff the option of working at home or starting their working day later than usual to miss the morning rush. This led to a huge increase in engagement.

HRreview: How should companies deal with the “January Blues”?

Mr Kropp: From an HR perspective, you should set goals at the beginning of the year. When businesses delay implementing these goals, they are stuck in neutral. If you are not effective at setting goals at the beginning of the year, you will see a negative impact.

In particular commercial teams, if they do not have a goal they do not work as hard. If goals are set at the end of February your year is only 10 months long.

HRreview: How do you help “employees gradually re-align their work-life balance?”

Mr Kropp: A good way is to give them the option of flexible working, not to enforce it. To avoid employees asking managers for flexibility, some businesses have made most jobs flexible. This shifts the responsibility onto the manager and not the employee. The manager has to justify the flexibility of the staff member.

HRreview: Do employers take the “January Blues” seriously?

Mr Kropp: Employers are starting to notice the correlation between productivity and mental health. They are offering mental as well as physical wellbeing to their staff. Employees are not just offered holidays now but also mental health days.

HRreview: Do you think such perks as listening to music whilst you are working can help?

Mr Kropp: There are a variety of solutions that may be applicable to individuals. Some may want to listen to music others may want flexible working. We know that senior leaders tend to implement what will work for them and not necessarily their staff. They should listen to their employees’ wants.