Over the past 20 years, data has consistently shown that January is one of the most common months, if not the most common month, for employees to start searching for a new job, or even leave their job. There are a variety of reasons why this trend may increase in January, and we explore these in this blog post, as well as looking at some solutions to support your organisation to maximise retention and motivation.

New Year, New Job? Retention Strategies for January
Google Trends – “Jobs” being searched over the last decade, regularly peaking in January. Measure as Interest over time – Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular.

There are a variety of different factors why job searches peak at the beginning of the year, and whilst maximising retention is something that should be focused on all year round, putting extra emphasis on this and putting some plans in place for December and January could help your organisation.

“New Year, New Me”

The turn of the new year often sparks fresh motivations and “new beginnings” mindsets for many employees. As cliché as the sentiment may be, people often set ambitious professional goals alongside personal ones. Organisations shouldn’t neglect this reality and, instead, leaders should be encouraged to have conversations in December and January (if they haven’t already done so) to understand what are the real aspirations for individuals in their team.

Are people setting aims around skill development, new challenges, certain promotions? Organisations can get ahead of the restlessness by engaging in regular one to ones, where realistic internal advancement routes can be mapped with clear objectives. Even small lateral moves onto special projects can challenge staff and nurture talent. The key is to consult, plan goals and offer the right support – simple mechanisms to support evolving expectations.

Post Holiday Discontent

Just as valuable is assessing the post-holiday mindset. After downtime for reflection, what latent discontents may be simmering for employees? Were there frustrations around compensation limiting their celebrating? Do they feel dissatisfied progressing towards senior positions? Are flexible schedules amenable to their work-life balance needs?

Tactful engagement surveys, anonymous suggestion boxes, aggregated exit interview callouts – these can all help surface common frustrations which organisations may be oblivious to. Once aware, efforts must be made to course correct through external benchmarking to ensure competitive compensation and progressive policies.

The goal is to predict and alleviate issues, otherwise employees may feel compelled to seek solutions in new roles in other organisations.

Clarifying Growth Trajectories

New Year planning cycles force many to reflect on their career growth aim and how close they are to achieving this. Annual reviews spotlight gaps between individual employee aspirations and realities. As next year’s goals are laid out, development limitations become starkly apparent – triggering a change in mindset.

Organisations can mitigate this by setting aside dedicated check-ins to co-define development pathways that seamlessly align skills with organisational priorities. Leadership should welcome input on desired growth directions and engage in realistic discussions for feasible advancement routes. This collaboration demonstrates your commitment to nurturing talent within your organisation. It’s about creatively providing internal elevation opportunities, before employees feel compelled to seek these elsewhere in January.

Winter Gloom

On top of motivational and cultural considerations, the literal winter gloom itself takes its toll on many people’s outlook. Shortened daylight and long stretches of darkness has been proven to negatively impact energy, mood and motivation levels (see the NHS site for more details). To counter the winter blues, leaders should look to promote the services you offer through healthcare benefits, in particular your mental health support. Morale-boosting activities such as social events and celebrations can also bring welcomed positivity across teams during this time.

New Year, New Job? Retention Strategies for January

When possible, organisational flexibility goes a long way too. Allowing remote work days, shortened hours on certain days or even sabbatical programs for those really struggling can provide much-needed respite. For some, simply promoting mental health days that can be utilised, without judgement, can help retention. The solutions don’t need to stand out – small demonstrations of empathy and support for workers’ wellbeing reaffirms their value within the organisation.


The reality is January sparks increased turnover triggers – from seasonal mood plummets to unmet motivations unearthed over the holiday lull. Yet supportive, empathetic organisations can curb reactive resignations through proactively investing in pulse checks, career mapping support, and voice amplification. Building cultures focused on nurturing talent and mutual understanding ultimately strengthens your workforce and productivity all year-round. The takeaway must be recognising seasonal exit drivers and mitigating them through considered and thoughtful actions ahead of time.

And then you can focus on your long-term retention by analysing the teams and areas of your organisation that have the highest churn rates. You can then work out which element of your candidate attraction, recruitment and assessment/hiring processes isn’t quite working and develop a plan to improve these.

Our Omni team would be happy to support you if you need any help with this – our resourcing effectiveness team has lots of experience in helping organisations to evolve their recruitment processes to improve retention rates across all your teams. Please email us or call us for an informal chat to find out more.

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E: insights@omnirms.com