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How to get your start-of-year messages right

Get your start-of-year messaging right

Earlier in the week, we published some advice on how to get your end-of-year messages to strike the right tone and have the most impact. As a logical sequel to that, we’d like to share our thoughts on how to welcome your people back after their festive break.


A start-of-year message to your staff is an excellent opportunity to set a positive tone for the year ahead, communicate the goals and objectives for the business, and motivate your team for the upcoming year.


There may well be some cross-over or repetition with your end-of-year message, but that shouldn’t be a problem. For many, the festive break (whether as continuous time off work or just the odd couple of days sprinkled throughout) can act as something of a full-on reset. Much is lost and forgotten amid the busy throng of last-minute festive prep’, travelling, visits to or from family and friends, and (possibly-alcohol-fuelled) parties and celebrations! Repeating key messages and motivational thoughts is, therefore, probably well-advised.


So, to help you with that 'welcome back' message, here are another lucky seven tips.


1.     Start with a welcome and some appreciation

As a “stating the obvious” starter for ten, begin by welcoming everyone back. If appropriate, welcome any new team members too. Another expression of your gratitude for their hard work and contributions from last year won’t do any harm either.


2.     Reflect on recent achievements

Before launching in on the objectives and challenges of the year ahead, take a moment to reflect (again) on the accomplishments of the previous year. Celebrate the key successes and acknowledge the collective efforts that contributed to the team's achievements, including any struggles that were overcome.


“Tough times never last. But tough people do.”

-       Dr. Robert Schuller


3.     Outline goals and objectives

Clearly communicate the goals and objectives for the upcoming year. Outline the strategic direction and priorities for the business. This helps align everyone towards common objectives. Acknowledge the individual and team contributions that are anticipated in achieving these goals. Reinforce the idea that each team member, regardless of role, responsibility, or department, plays a crucial role in the success of the business. As a bit of fun, remember that 2024 is a leap year, so you could squeeze that into your messaging – “we have 366 opportunities to make a difference…


4.     Share opportunities for growth

If appropriate and possible, highlight any planned or available opportunities for professional and personal growth within the organisation. This is a great chance to start the year by underlining the company’s willingness to invest in its people. You could also encourage team members to set their own personal development goals for the year.


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”

-       Aristotle


5.     Reinforce company culture

Remind the team of the company's values and culture. Reinforce the importance of these values in the day-to-day activities and decision-making that the year will bring. Emphasise the importance of open communication and collaboration. Remind your audience that you want to create an environment where ideas and feedback are welcomed, and where teamwork is valued. Also, reinforce your commitment to recognising and rewarding hard work and exceptional performance. This can include both formal recognition programs and informal acknowledgment.


6.     Promote any special events or activities

This would be a great time to announce (or at least tease!) any company events, team-building activities, conferences or similar that are planned for the upcoming year. Even if the finer details haven’t been confirmed, as long as you’re sure it’s going to happen, a little early promo’ for such an event can build a buzz and get people intrigued and excited for what’s to come.


7.     Look forward with positivity

Conclude the message by expressing your optimism and excitement for the year ahead. Reinforce the belief that, as a team, you can overcome challenges and achieve great things.

This is also a good time to show some concern and care for the wellbeing of your people. Depending on the nature and makeup of your business, you may, for example, wish to encourage a healthier work-life balance, and remind them of the resources available to support their physical and mental wellbeing. If you carried out a meaningful employee surveys in the second half of ’23, refer to their findings and respond accordingly here as a better way forward for 2024. If you have one, it’s also a good time to promote your employee recognition platforms and try to increase their use in the new year. (If you haven’t got one, now would be a great time to look into getting one!)


“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

-       Emerson


Of course, as with all internal comms, one size doesn’t fit all. You should personalise the message to suit the culture of your organisation and the specific dynamics of your team(s). Tailor the message to make it relevant to your staff and in an appropriate tone of voice that befits them and your organisation. The aim is to inspire a positive and motivated start to the new year.

And, in case we miss you with our next and final post of the year, may we take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful festive break, and a healthy, happy and successful new year.



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