January can be a notoriously tough time to both motivate staff and this sluggishness can also apply to your company's sales and productivity. The high of the holidays is over and the reality of coming back to work can hit hard. But it doesn't have to mean not trying to turn this around and buck the trend. What better way to lead by example, and motivate yourself and your employees, than with resolutions to benefit your business and your team?

Last year we published some great leadership resolutions and this year we're focusing on the best resolutions you can make that will specifically benefit your employees in the new year and ensure you continue to build a team of both valued and valuable employees.

Nurture and delegate

While it can be hard to let go of control as a small business owner, delegation is the best way to give your employees room to grow. Handing over responsibility for everyday tasks within the business - once you’re satisfied it can be done correctly - will not only motivate those individuals trusted to perform them, but will free up more of your time to further develop your business instead of just running it.

Whatever your future ambitions for your business, it can only help to have a reliable understudy who can run things smoothly in your absence. Whether it’s peace of mind and cover when you’re away, or an eventual successor should you choose to move on or to a higher position, think about who could fill the role and how you can begin to give them more opportunities to prove themselves.

Get digital

It’s safe to say that trying out new apps and websites can often seem like a low priority job when you’ve a company to run, but there’s a strong argument for investing more time in your digital ways of working as it could free up more of your and your employees' time. There are a host of useful tools out there to help with everything from moving your employee scheduling online to email marketing.

Consider ways that you can make your employees’ lives easier. Is there a repetitive task you can automate instead of assigning duties to people anew day after day?

Social media could have a whole guide of its own, but for now we’ll say merely that if you’re considering boosting your online presence, perhaps there is scope to assign further responsibility or even create a new role managing it for your employees.

Get a schedule

Having clear expectations benefits you, your employees, and your customers. That includes having a set timetable for all your key tasks, so that everyone knows what needs doing and when.

This makes it easier to hold employees to account over their performance, rewarding successes so you motivate them further, and working out how to help those struggling. Activities to be scheduled to regular times and people could include anything, from completing the rota for the upcoming week or collecting invoices owed, to cleaning the shop floor or updating the company blog.

Be sure to give opportunities to those who want to try their hand at any new roles. Making these jobs a ‘shift’ on your rota can be an easy way of regularly rotating responsibility.

Invest in their training

Whether there are new tasks to be done or not, think about the training needs of your employees. Find out if they’re satisfied with what they know and ask what they need to do their jobs better. Investing in your employees' training and professional development doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming and you should always ask your staff what and how they are interested in learning.

Those with ambitions to progress their careers - with or without your business - should be encouraged to aim high, as they’ll make motivated workers while they’re there and valuable contacts should they ever leave.

Stick to your resolutions

Though it can be tough to find time, each of these tips will have a noticeable effect on your employees and your business, so work out what you can commit to now and give them a go. A consistent approach to your staff in itself will reap rewards as your employees learn what they can expect from you and in turn you become more reliable and approachable to them.

Whatever resolutions you make this new year, we wish you a productive 2018!

About the author

Jake Waller is a wordsmith who plies his trade here at Findmyshift. He uses his background in engineering to simplify complex topics for a variety of tech firms. When not writing for Findmyshift he blogs under a pseudonym at My Name is Skylance and has a passion for creative writing and editing, about which he's always talking on Twitter.