Whether we resolve to get in shape, tighten up our spending habits, spend more time with our families, or contribute more to our community, January is the month of reflection and positive change – a time when we take a look at our current state, and resolve to make it better in a meaningful way.

January is also an inflection point for organizations – we take a look at what we’ve achieved in the prior year, we assess and identify areas of improvement, and we resolve to work together to make things better.

But here’s the problem. If you’re anything like me, it’s a piece of cake to create a New Year’s Resolution. The challenge lies in making it stick. If I make a resolution that’s too big and fuzzy, I will never succeed. I find that if I can break my resolution down into a bite-sized, more actionable nugget, then I have a fighting chance.

Speaking of big and fuzzy, “employee engagement” always seems to be at the top of the organizational New Year’s Resolution list. We all understand collectively that our employees are our biggest asset. We cannot succeed without motivated employees that understand their team’s mission, have clarity broader business goals, and have the skills and support they need to get things done. In fact, we hear over and over again how employee engagement is the key to our business success. But then we hear how we’re all failing to attain it.

So what’s the problem? My theory is that employee engagement is one of those things that’s easy to identify when you don’t have it, and easy to say “hey, we need to get this right,” but it’s a big octopus to wrestle. It’s not just one person’s job, it’s a multi-faceted initiative, and it’s a continuous process.

Instead of looking at employee engagement as one big resolution for our organization, what if we broke it down to bite-sized nuggets? Could we be more successful? Let’s see how that might look:

Resolve to Nurture your New Hires. You’re probably ramping up your recruiting efforts this month, so as part of that initiative, resolve to get your new hires better integrated into your organization from the start. Review your onboarding process, refresh your training content, and combine learning methodologies –in person training can help your new hires build relationships and camaraderie on day 1, and peer-to-peer and collaborative learning can help them build good support systems and establish a foundation for cross-functional engagement.

Resolve to Tune up Communications. January is a great time to re-set your vision and mission with employees. If employees aren’t getting clear communication and transparency from company leadership, they’re going to get their information from somewhere else (aka the rumor mill). Resolve to create (and stick to) a predictable communication cadence in person and virtually, then engage your leadership team in the process, and make sure your department managers are equipped with the information and tools they need to keep their teams informed.

Resolve to Recognize. It’s no secret that recognition keeps us engaged in our work. When we get positive reinforcement from our managers and our peers, it validates our impact, and keeps us motivated. So in addition to the traditional “top down” employee recognition programs, get everyone involved. A virtual “high five” from a co-worker, or recognition badge for help on a project can be just as impactful, if not more, than the “5 years of service” award you give out at that next company lunch.

Resolve to Offer Opportunities. January is the time when your employees are thinking about their careers. “Getting a better/different job” is usually high on the list of personal resolutions. So tackle this head on, and resolve to give your employees clear growth paths for their careers. Spend less time on the dreaded annual performance review process, and instead, use that time to create more robust plans for education, skills and career development with your department managers. Then leverage technology to make it repeatable and scalable across your organization.

What do you think? Do you have plans to improve Employee Engagement in your organization in 2016? What will you tackle first? Share your thoughts with us.

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