Why do we wait until January to resolve to be better?
Let’s be frank, new year resolutions are all well and good, but most of us know that we shouldn’t wait until 1 January to make a change for the better.
What the welcoming in of a new year does, however, is focus the mind. Perhaps it’s just the opportunity to start afresh with a metaphorical ‘clean page’, coupled with more time away from our usual routine, that gives us the chance to reflect.
In our personal lives, there’s all the usuals – such as dry January, signing up to the gym and eating more healthily – that make their annual appearance. Most of us have probably been there, done that, but how many of us take the opportunity to make improvements in business and the workplace too?
Business planning, which is an on-going and ever-evolving process, is the key to success – hence the old adage ‘fail to plan and you plan to fail.’ The new year, however, provides another opportunity to re-visit that planning process.
High on the agenda for many in business this year will be how to look after and motivate our staff in these still uncertain times. Working from home and hybrid working has been part of our lives for nearly two years and yet still seems an anomaly for some. Challenges can persist in terms of IT, isolation, mental health, training and development.
While IT issues can be sorted with a good technical team, there is no ‘one-size’ fits all solution when it comes to people. Some employees may have the luxury of working from a proper home-office while others, often younger people in shared housing, will be working in the bedroom that they then sleep in at night, which is far from ideal.
Equally, we are all different when it comes to connecting with colleagues. Some manage perfectly well working in a world of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, while others excel in company and the social nature of an office environment. For those heading-up a business, managing a department or overseeing a company’s HR strategy, these personal differences present a challenge. Those responsible for training and development have an equally difficult task at hand as they measure the effect of learning remotely or online versus the informal education that comes from sharing a room with colleagues.
For us, it’s about understanding what makes people tick and responding accordingly with a flexible process that does its best to accommodate everyone’s needs and create a happy and motivated workforce.
Another people-focused area that’s been affected by the pandemic is networking. Let’s be honest, a virtual business get together can sometimes feel a bit stilted. But until we can all get together again safely face-to-face, building networks online will still be an important focus. And networking virtually means we can ‘attend’ events that may, otherwise, be geographically inaccessible, as we’ve found with our own conferences, which now attract participants from all over the world.
Innovation is another thing that should be high on our new year agenda. We all know that standing still in business is not an option, and this is more important than ever in the face of a pandemic. In fact, if there are any silver linings at all to be taken from Covid-19, and I know there aren’t many, it’s that it has compelled many of us to accelerate the introduction of new business practices that may have otherwise taken longer to implement.
Finally, if COP 26 and COP Cymru taught us anything at the end of last year, it’s the unrelenting focus we must all have on environmental issues. The challenge is great, and while many of us are recycling more at home and trying to walk to the shops rather than drive, we also need to take a look at our workplaces to see how we’re actively moving towards a greener working world.
Interestingly, remote working has huge positives from an environmental point of view. Less commuting equals less traffic equals less pollution. Also, the opportunity to hold virtual meetings and events enables us to minimise the use of transport during the working day as well as either side of it.
It will be interesting to see what other new breakthroughs become commonplace in the working world to enable us to do right by the environment. For now, however, there’s no doubt we all must take responsibility for implementing change in 2022. Whether that’s opting for a cappuccino in a re-usable cup, using the train instead of the car or managing in-house recycling more effectively, we all know it’s time for action.
This article was written by our chief executive, Angharad Neagle, and featured in the Western Mail on 12 January 2022