In many ways, 2023 has been ‘business as usual’, however due to a reluctance to take leave; the end of year is seeing some employees battle work-induced fatigue and burnout. As many businesses mandate shutdowns over Christmas, employees find themselves exhausted but reflective on the year that was.

New Years’ resolutions are becoming less about personal goals and more about finding employment that meets their unique Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and potentially even taking the leap to that ‘tree change’ that previously could only be a dream.

Workers will all use their ‘down time’ for different purposes, but there tends to be a commonality in the desire to reflect. Employees are asking themselves – is this where I want to work in 2024?

What are some common reasons driving the reflection?

There will always be the ‘plodders’ that will happily turn up year after year. But the problem is that successful businesses are only built from talent that are seeking to improve from one year to the next – not just grab a seat and enjoy the ride.  

Some common reasons for Christmas reflection include:

  • Dissatisfaction with the current job or employer. Employees may feel unhappy or unfulfilled with their work environment, culture, management, or compensation. They may also feel underappreciated, undervalued, or overworked. The Christmas break provides a unique opportunity for workers to reflect and muster up the courage to take the leap elsewhere. It has therefore never been more important to show employees they are appreciated.  
  • Desire for a change or a challenge. Employees may want to explore new fields, industries, or roles that match their interests, skills, or passions. They may also want to seek more growth, learning, or development opportunities. Some may be considering how they can earn a living from something that they are passionate about. The extended break gives plenty of opportunity to get active on LinkedIn or to send out applications.
  • Influence of external factors. Employees may be affected by the economic, social, or personal circumstances that impact their employment or career choices. They may face financial difficulties, family issues, health problems, or relocation plans. They may face pressure from a loved one that is sick of hearing about the same work issues.

9 Key steps to minimise turnover over the holiday period

Leaders are recognising that now is the time to engage in these important conversations to avoid frantically dealing with unanticipated turnover in the new year. The following outlines 9 key things employers can do to minimise turnover over the holiday break. 

1. Understand the Employee Value Proposition (EVP)

Understanding your employer brand is critical to promoting the benefits to team members. Have you been a company that has embraced flexibility post COVID-19, or is it back to the old ways? Are your internal training programs above industry standards? Do you have an inclusion and diversity strategy? Does your business have a glass ceiling?

Determine what sets your company apart from your competitors and work out how this aligns to the EVP of each team member.

2. Let’s talk employee development

Is there a plan to put all the sales representatives through a development program in 2024? Many employers have hard working leaders and HR departments with amazing development plans in the works for next year. If this is your business, don’t let your team members go home for the holidays without sharing the exciting news! It just may be the hook that they have been looking for!

3. Don’t keep your feedback a secret

Irrespective of where you are on the organisational chart, it is nice to wrap up the year with some open and honest feedback with your leader. Reflect on three key achievements for each direct report and ensure that you let them know how it supported the business to achieve company success. When employees are clear exactly how their hard work aligns, they know that the late nights and hard work was not done in vain.

4. Ask and then listen

It is easy to assume what your team members value and where their pain points have been, but the only way to understand is to ask the questions. Set up a chat over coffee and ask important questions like:

  • What is working for you?
  • What are the bits that engage you and where are the sticking points?
  • What work arrangement best meets your motivators?
  • What is one thing that I can do as your leader to help make your role more fulfilling?
  • Is there something that you would like me to add or remove from your role?
  • Are you experiencing any frustrations in your current position?
  • What is important to you in 2024?

5. Look forward, not back

Of course, it is useful to reflect on the year that was; but don’t dwell on the past. Your job is to engage the head, heart, and hands of employees by connecting them to the vision of the business in 2024 and beyond. What is going to be different next year? Are there plans for new products, machinery, or technology? Engage the employee with the plans so that they can join in the excitement.

6. Honour time off and respect boundaries 

One of the biggest contributors to turnover in the holiday period is leaders that do not respect the boundaries during time off. Sure, Sam might be the best at dealing with complex work issues, but everyone deserves uninterrupted leave. Employees need to be able to disconnect completely to recharge and this means cutting the digital lead.

7. Ensure that you lead with wellness principles

Employee wellbeing and strategies to nurture strong mental health should be the top of every employer’s list, but sometimes these can take a back seat to business priorities. Let employees know how you will support them in 2024 and beyond and ensure they understand your approach to balancing work with wellness.

8. Consider an engagement survey

When employers commit to an engagement survey, they send a clear message that they are interested in acting on what is most important to team members. The end of year is a perfect time to frame up that you are seeking to understand what is important and committed to delivering.

9. Devise a talent strategy

Talented employees do not sit still for too long and are notorious for getting itchy feet over the festive season. In the days of strong social connection, your talented employee is not likely to go unnoticed. Don’t wait for someone else to poach your high performing/high potential (HIPO) employees. Devise a talent strategy designed to identify, partner, and grow with employees in your business.

It's not too late

Retaining key employees in the business is a year-long activity that takes commitment through all the seasons. Sometimes leaders forget about turnover until December and then madly scramble to secure their talent for the year ahead. There is no question that leaving retention strategies until the end of year is risky business and it may result in unwelcome turnover.

The good news is it’s not too late. Start today by scheduling individual catch-ups for an authentic and engaging chat that demonstrates that you are committed to a productive partnership in 2024.  Implementing proactive and targeted retention strategies is worth the effort and will help your business take control of the dreaded Christmas turnover.

Further information

Employers are encouraged to revise their HR practices to ensure that there are tailored strategies to reduce turnover. Ai Group have experienced HR consultants who can partner with your business to improve organisational effectiveness and implement people strategies designed to retain talent. For assistance with your workplace matters, Members of Ai Group can contact us or call our Workplace Advice Line on 1300 55 66 77 for further information.

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Georgina Pacor

Georgina is Senior HR Content Editor – Publications at Ai Group. She is an accomplished Human Resource professional with over 25 years of generalist and leadership experience in a broad range of industries including financial services, tourism, travel, government and agriculture. She has successfully advised and partnered with senior leaders to implement people and performance initiatives that align to business strategy. Georgina is committed to utilising her experience to create resources that educate and engage and is passionate about supporting members to optimise an inclusive workforce culture that drives performance.