Should we be scared of January?

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Gateley Legal

January is commonly seen as a month of change, particularly in the workplace where employers see an increase in the number of resignations from staff seeking new career opportunities. The question therefore is: why does this occur in January? 

New year, new you

We tend to start preparing for the New Year in the months leading up to it. Between October and December, we often see a change in the pace at work, the pressure increases, the days get shorter and the nights get longer as we look to reduce the workload in advance of the holidays.

We effectively clear the diary so we can have a well-earned break with family and friends. It can be an exciting time - but also a stressful one too - as we start to wind down ready for the holidays.

People often view the New Year as a time for a new perspective – often branded the ‘New Year, New Me’ phenomenon. It acts as a catalyst for people to evaluate their current position, set plans for the upcoming year and consider their career aspirations and progressions. It’s often a time for reflection as you ask yourself what you want to achieve out of the next 12 months. 

January therefore supports the opportunity for change and a new beginning. It carries momentum for anyone wanting to seek new challenges, achieve new goals and plan their career progression. It’s not surprising therefore that people consider work as a priority in this regard, questioning whether their current employment aligns with their goals. It may even be that personal circumstances have changed meaning there is need to revaluate work.

Employers facing new year resignations

For employers, it may be that you cannot change the inevitable outcome. However, with any resignation, it is an opportunity to consider first and foremost why employees are resigning. Understanding why people leave will only better equip you with the knowledge and understanding to make changes and better support your employees, resulting in better business long term and staff retention. 

This information can be obtained initially at an exit interview, which is a really useful tool an employer can use to understand why an employee is leaving. If common place problems are identified, it also gives employers an opportunity to rectify them and reduce the risk of losing further employees for the same reasons.

Are exit interviews enough?

Ideally, an employer will want to identify and address any issues before an exit interview. This is where management and the senior leadership team play an important role. Enabling employees to share concerns with management through a variety of formal and informal measures will allow an employer to understand where change needs to be actioned – it will also identify the areas they are doing well in. Organising regular one-to-one or team meetings, with a focus on employee feedback and engagement, will provide the platform for employees to raise concerns openly. More formal measures can take place by way of surveys or focus groups through the year, with a view to collating all responses and highlighting the areas which attract a collective concern. 

Feedback should be considered a positive tool to effect change – just as much as training and development is to assess one’s understanding. Following your employee feedback, it may be that you consider training would be beneficial to support your managers and senior leaders in the workforce and close any gaps which may have been identified. 

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