Can an end-of-year message reignite your workforce?

Yesterday at our company all-hands, we had all offices dialed in and connected, albeit virtually, to each other to celebrate a strong year and have one last team hoorah before 2013 begins. I think most could say that a year-end, all-hands meeting is not the definition of fun or engaging, so I wasn’t too pumped. Just another to-do before my afternoon of packed meetings.

Luckily for me, and to my surprise, I left the meeting energized and fired up. Yes, the financials and new clients were exciting to see, but honestly, my head is in the middle of these things all year so that wasn’t all that new. I would venture to guess that this wasn’t the highlight for others either. The best part of the meeting, evidenced by nodding heads and smiling faces, was when the founder and CEO made our company priorities very clear: focus on each other first and our current clients next. Excuse me? In most company meetings I’ve experienced in the past, and when I asked colleagues about their company meetings, the take-away message was pretty consistent: “Let’s get excited and head into 2013 and GROW NEW BUSINESS!!!!! Stay focused! Work smarter! We can do it! Who’s with me?!”

We all know that businesses exist to thrive, to grow, to be healthy. That’s understood. But to encourage an organization in a very competitive market to focus internally first and on external growth second, truly resonated with me. It connects with what drives and motivates the best of the best talent. It’s the type of message employees need to hear; it engages them, and compels them to act.

A recent employee engagement study by AON Worldwide proves that employees’ needs are clear. They continue to tell us the same thing: engagement starts with the right leadership and a genuine interest in the well-being of the workforce. Sounds simple, but unfortunately, many of these year-end messages communicate the importance of working hard, working faster, and getting new business.The recipe for success, however, starts with the employee first, and that employee must be personally motivated to work harder and faster which stems from connectivity and engagement with the leadership and the organization.

Another need expressed by employees is genuine recognition for effort and performance. Despite the economic challenges we still face, good talent has options – the option to stay or go with your company; the option to check the box each day or show up fully present and ready to give what they never knew they had. Taking time to recognize top contributors costs very little, but it can mean the difference in a solid culture and strong organizational performance.

As we wrap up the year and sprint to the end for a strong finish, I am happy to be reminded of the internal focus. Take care of your people, show a commitment to the culture, and enjoy the holidays.