For some workers, it’s hard to get back in the swing of things after the highs and lows of the last two weeks of 2010. But the good news for employers is that there are inexpensive ways to ensure the post-holiday blues don’t interfere with employees’ engagement. 

According to Bob Kelleher, an expert on employee engagement and workforce trends, employers should take this time to breathe new life into strategies on improving company culture. He writes they can start by doing the following:

■ Office get-togethers shouldn’t be viewed as one-time events: Companies should remember to thank their employees throughout the year, as these small, but critically important gestures go a long way in building the culture in many organizations. 

■ Pledge to improve your communication process, with a commitment to having frequent and transparent communication going forward.  Consider establishing a “Communication Promise” - a detailed communication protocol in which you and your leadership team commit to communicating to all employees. This protocol should outline a schedule of communications over the next year that will be cascaded down from the CEO to the first line manager.

■ Focus your efforts on building a learning culture.  Although many training and development budgets have been cut, and many have not returned, a key engagement driver is staff development.  There is much that can be done to build cultures of learning with spending lots of money.  Stretch assignments, mentorship opportunities, cross sectional task teams and luncheon brown bags, which are all learning opportunities that have great impact and marginal direct dollar costs.

■ Determine and communicate your employment brand.  Assemble a cross sectional group of top performing employees to determine why people work for your company. Consider conducting a culture audit as a first place to start. (Many companies have a hiring issue, not an engagement issue — they’re hiring the wrong type of people to succeed in their cultures.)

■ Host a YouTube video contest linked to a business imperative.  For little money (but huge engagement benefit), send out Flip cameras to every location and or department with a request that employees be given a chance to pick a company value and tell “what that means to me.” Establish prizes (they don’t have to be extravagant — employees will be motivated to participate just because it will be fun and will want their department to win!).  Post your “winners” on the company intranet, as well as YouTube.

■ To keep the social interaction levels high throughout the year, in single site companies or in standalone offices or businesses, have ethnicity theme nights monthly.  January will be Mexico night sponsored by accounting. February will be Italian night sponsored by procurement.

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