by Bob Kelleher | December 22, 2010
Given the exciting build-up and anticipation for the holidays, it’s not surprising that many of us feel at least a bit of a letdown when the season is over. The post-holiday blues have been shown to spill into the workplace, taking a toll on employee motivation, engagement, and productivity.

The good news is that there are effective ways for employers to get employees back into the swing of work and keep them motivated and engaged when the holiday hoopla subsides. Here are some low-cost ideas for driving employee engagement after the holidays:

o 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 toward building the culture in many organizations.

o 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.

o Focus your efforts on building a learning culture. Although many training and development budgets have been cut and not returned, a key engagement driver is staff development. There is much that can be done to build cultures of learning without spending lots of money. Stretch assignments, mentorship opportunities, cross-sectional task teams, luncheon brown bags, etc, are all learning opportunities that have great impact and marginal direct dollar costs.

o 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.)

o 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 for employees to pick a company value and show “what that means to me.” Establish prizes (they don’t have to be extravagant, as employees will be motivated to participate just because the contest will be fun and they will want their departments to win!). Post your "winners” on the company intranet, as well as on YouTube.

o To keep the social interaction levels high throughout the year in single-site companies or in standalone offices or businesses, have theme nights monthly. For example, January will be "Mexican Night Sponsored by Accounting—All Are Welcomed!" February will be "Italian Night sponsored by Procurement—All Are Welcomed!" etc.

Bob Kelleher is a noted speaker, thought leader, and author of the just-released Louder Than Words: 10 Practical Employee Engagement Steps That Drive Results, which has climbed to the #3 Workplace book, #5 human resources book, and #12 management book on 

He is also the founder and CEO of The Employee Engagement Group,, and a consultant on the subjects of employee engagement, workforce trends, and leadership.