How to Help Employees Look Forward to Mondays

It’s Sunday night.

You’re curled up on the couch, looking for a new Netflix series to start, but you just keep scrolling and scrolling because your stomach is in knots.

Part of you wants to open your work email and get ahead of the deluge, and part of you wants to stay up super late watching TV to put off the inevitable: Monday.

Sound familiar?

Even if you love your job now, most of us have been there before. And if you lead people, it’s likely that some of your teams feel like this at the end of every weekend. Maybe you do too.

When employees head into Monday with a sense of dread, it affects their engagement and performance, and that stress also takes a toll on their wellbeing.

According to Gallup research, people’s wellbeing peaks are weekends and holidays, and their valleys are Mondays.

Wellbeing doesn’t just mean physical health. It’s made up of five elements that work in harmony to make you thrive — or struggle. The five elements are purpose, social, financial, community and physical.

Over time, lower wellbeing leads to more absenteeism, higher healthcare costs for the organization and higher turnover.

If there was a way to bring employee wellbeing levels on Monday up near where they are on the weekend, wouldn’t you want to try?

Over time, lower wellbeing leads to more absenteeism, higher healthcare costs for the organization and higher turnover.

There may not be a magic solution that makes Monday morning feel like Friday afternoon, but we do have some employee-tested, leader-approved tips for making Mondays enjoyable on their own merit.

First, What Are the Factors That Make Weekends Great?

Not to state the obvious, but on the weekend, you have relative freedom of time and place.

You have a few obligations now and then, but for the most part you can go where you want, engage in activities that give you purpose and develop your interests.

Gallup research shows that flexibility, sense of purpose and opportunities for development are three of the biggest factors people — especially millennials — look for when choosing a workplace.

And people are choosing their workplace these days. It’s a buyer’s market because of low unemployment rates nationwide. If employees can find those perks elsewhere, they will.

How to Offer Flexibility That People Value

Employees want flexibility of both time and place as the boundaries between job and life become more blurry.

If your company has a policy that promotes the most requested forms of flexibility — remote working and flextime — make sure you model them for the people you lead.

Gallup research shows that flexibility, sense of purpose and opportunities for development are three of the biggest factors people — especially millennials — look for when choosing a workplace.

Work from home or a coffee shop occasionally. Demonstrate that it’s OK to leave early to watch your kid’s game and then catch up later in the evening.

If your company doesn’t offer much or any flexibility, communicate with your teams to let them know you value them as people and will work with them to make individual requests possible. Create a culture where they’re not afraid to ask.

You can also offer flexibility in creative ways:

  • Institute shorter summer Fridays.
  • Work from the coffee shop as a team.
  • Encourage breaks.
  • Limit meetings on the calendar.
  • Encourage employees to share personal interests in the workplace.

If your company has a policy that promotes the most requested forms of flexibility — remote working and flextime — make sure you model them for the people you lead.

Who knows … the success you see in rising engagement numbers may inspire others in the company to follow your lead.

How to Increase Sense of Purpose

People want to work toward a common cause they can be proud of. On the weekends, that often manifests in the activities you do with your spouse, kids or friends.

Work can offer just as much of a sense of purpose, though, and here are some ideas to make that a reality for your people:

  • Share the company mission and values.
  • Let them see the bigger picture of the project.
  • Get their input on processes.
  • Encourage them to get involved in professional goal setting.
  • Talk to them about their personal goals and weave those goals into their work assignments.

When your people feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves and feel like they’re reaching their own aspirations through their work, they’ll show up on Monday morning ready to make things happen.

How to Develop Your People

All of us want to become the best version of ourselves.

On your days off, you may listen to a podcast, read a book, attend a religious service, or chat with a close friend to gain insight and personal growth.

Experts say that people who seek out more development tend to be more successful, and those same people are going to quickly become frustrated if they don’t grow and develop at their job.

While it may seem tempting to spend all your time coaxing the low performers to decent performance, your high performers are the ones who will be most productive and innovative, and they might even be the company’s future leaders.

Focus your development efforts on them:

  • Be a trustworthy mentor.
  • Have frequent coaching conversations.
  • Offer continued learning opportunities.
  • Ask them what they’d like to get better at.
  • Let them grow.

To put a finer point on the last item, letting them grow might mean letting them go.

It takes a generous leader to recognize a talented person who might outgrow your team or your own ability to mentor them.

Rather than keeping them in their role because it’s easier for you, help them network with other leaders and set them up for future success. Better to lose them to another role within the company than to a competitor’s offer!

Experts say that people who seek out more development tend to be more successful, and those same people are going to quickly become frustrated if they don’t grow and develop at their job.

You have the power to significantly improve employee wellbeing when you increase flexibility, purpose and development.

Your organization will thank you for the higher productivity and lower turnover, and your employees will thank you for making Mondays feel a little bit less like … Mondays.


Focus on Engagement Before Advancement

The impact and economic benefits of a raise, afforded by an advancement focus, will most likely be short-lived as your standard of living adjusts to the bump in pay. What won’t be short-lived is the increased responsibility, increased accountability and increased stakes — the cost of not meeting expectations could have a higher impact. If that new role isn’t aligned with your strengths and doesn’t afford you opportunities for increased engagement, you’ve offset higher pay (or better incentives) with a lower-quality working life, increasing the probability of subsequent burnout or mediocre performance reviews. 

Focusing on professional development goals that target engagement will ready you for advancement and increase the probability that you will remain engaged in future role.As you work with your manager to determine projects and goals for the coming year, prioritize those that give you the most opportunities to leverage your strengths.

Identify the tasks or projects you currently own that drop your engagement level. Try to answer these questions: “How does this project or task drain me?” and “Why am I challenged with these?” Try to link your answers to your strengths profile. You may find that these tasks or projects offend your strengths or require strengths that aren’t particularly high for you. You have 3 options: 1) prioritize this work to get it out of the way early; 2) delegate it; or 3) partner with others who have complementary strengths that can accelerate the work.

Identify opportunities that give you more autonomy on how the work gets done. Increased autonomy is associated with increased engagement and provides opportunities to participate in more creative problem-solving. Dan Pink (2009) calls this “heuristic thinking” and cites research in behavioral economics that links this type of thinking with increased motivation.

Identify projects or initiatives where your strengths lend a rare and valuable perspective. This will provide you with opportunities for impact, increased engagement and cultivating what Cal Newport (2012) describes as “career capital,” that is, rare and valuable skills that can be a key value differentiator when you discuss advancement.

The Leadership Style That Companies Often Overlook, but Shouldn’t

Have you ever heard somebody say one of these things?

I can’t wait to downgrade my car!

I’m glad everyone will know I didn’t succeed on that project.

I hope we get to the concert late so we don’t get the best seats.

You probably haven’t, because that’s not how people think.

Instead, they strive for better status — they seek to improve their standing in life. And, naturally, they want to be surrounded by leaders who can help them achieve the status they believe they deserve.

Unfortunately, appointing managers and leaders who understand this — people who know how to set others up for success — is a leadership approach that organizations often overlook.

The Typical Leadership Choices Companies Make Instead

First, let’s start with how people usually end up in leadership and management positions.

The top two reasons thousands of people in a Gallup study gave for being promoted to manager were: 1) success in a prior nonmanagement role and 2) tenure.

That seems … fair. When taken at face value.

It’s normal to think that people who are highly competent in a hard skill, who articulate their own contributions and who have been around the longest are the best choice to put in a management or leadership position.

It’s hard to argue that those aren’t good qualities, because they are.

But this way of promoting hasn’t led to the era of the amazing manager.

One in two employees have left a job to get away from a bad manager, and just two in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work, according to Gallup’s research.

So, what kind of leader won’t send your star employees running for the door? Who can best motivate your teams and keep your people working together productively?

The Leadership Style That Is More Motivating

The reason you never hear people say the quotes at the beginning of this article is because people don’t seek to move their status down in life (and they definitely wouldn’t brag about it).

Even if someone, say, downsizes their house on their own volition, most likely it’s to earn a new status (minimalist, recycler, Dave Ramsey follower) that they think is more prominent.

What this means: Your employees will naturally gravitate to someone who improves their status. A manager who knows how to set them up for success — whatever that might mean to the employee.

Managers play a huge role in your employees’ daily experience and engagement level. So, doesn’t it make sense to give your people the kind of leader who will lift them up, day in and day out? To give them a coach, not a boss — one who is hired for their innate leadership qualities and not promoted solely based on time served?

This isn’t a new concept, but for some reason it’s still not common practice.

our employees will naturally gravitate to someone who improves their status.

Clearly, some companies haven’t moved past traditional management and promotion practices. And some leaders just aren’t sure how to really develop their people, other than a promotion or big pay raise — and their companies don’t encourage it.

You Can’t Give Everyone a Promotion, So How Do You Bring People Up in Status?

Bringing someone up in status would be impossible if a promotion or big raise was the only way to do it. Not every one of your employees can become the top dog or even be promoted anytime soon, but they still want the opportunity to grow.

And they’re likely to leave if they don’t get it — the No. 1 reason people change jobs today is “career growth opportunities.”

Luckily, not everyone needs a promotion to feel elevated in status or to bring a renewed passion to their job every day.

Not every one of your employees can become the top dog or even be promoted anytime soon, but they still want the opportunity to grow.

One way that managers can improve people’s status is to help them discover and become known for what they’re good at. Employees are twice as likely to be engaged at work if they have a manager who focuses on their strengths or positive characteristics.

Managers can build relationships based on trust when their companies equip and encourage them to prioritize strengths-based development and employee engagement. They can give more meaningful recognition, create work goals built on each team member’s unique capabilities, and help their employees learn and grow — instead of leave.

Your company needs all of its employees working at full steam to stay productive and to reduce turnover, not just the ones who land a promotion.

How to Up Your Leadership Game and Create Loyal Followers Today

Instead of expecting managers to rely on company policies and handbooks to figure out how to get by (scaring off half your workforce in the meantime), what if they were encouraged to get to know their employees and come up with creative ideas for empowering, developing and engaging them?

If you’re a company leader, you can start by empowering managers to develop employees based on their strengths — and by taking a hard look at who you’re hiring and promoting.

Do you want someone who is exceptionally good at a hard skill or someone who knows how to position others to play to their strengths and ultimately improve workplace performance?

If you’re a manager (or want to become one), you can start by creating opportunities for meaningful growth for your team members, and by recognizing people authentically based on their strengths and giving them the freedom to do what they do best every day.

You’ll bring them up in status.

And they’ll follow you.

10 Reports to Share With Your Leaders in 2019

So let me help you be a hero in 2019. Here are 10 reports to share with your leaders

1. Leaders need to understand and improve the manager experience at their company.

Being a manager has its benefits, but it can also be a challenging role within an organization. Managers have more authority, but they can also feel more lost.

Managers report being less clear about expectations and experiencing more stress than those they manage.

Considering managers have high influence on their teams — they account for at least 70% of the variance in team engagement — their own experiences with your company can affect your entire workforce.

2. Your employee experience is your employment brand.

Today’s workplace is more transparent than ever. That means that what employees experience within an organization can directly impact that company’s ability to hire and retain great talent.

When only 12% of employees strongly agree their organization does a good job of onboarding, it’s no wonder organizations have trouble engaging their employees over the long term.

The employee experience also includes how employees leave an organization. Employees who have a positive exit experience are 2.9 times more likely to recommend the organization to others.

However, most employees rarely have a meaningful conversation with their manager in the months prior to their departure. Fifty-two percent of exiting employees say their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving.

3. Respect lays the foundation for an inclusive culture.

Creating a diverse and inclusive culture is a pressing issue for many organizations today.

Among U.S. workers who disagree or strongly disagree that they are treated with respect at work, 90% report one or more discrimination or harassment experiences at work.

Learn more insights from our recent paper Three Requirements of a Diverse and Inclusive Culture — and Why They Matter for Your Organization.

4. How big is the gig?

Gallup has found a significant portion of American workers have a nontraditional relationship with their employer.

Twenty-nine percent of all workers in the U.S. have an alternative work arrangement as their primary job; 36% participate in the gig economy in some capacity.

Some workers are happier than others with this fluid employer-employee relationship. Independent gig workers (like freelancers) report more positive work experiences than contingent gig workers (e.g., temp workers).

5. Employee engagement is on the rise.

A six-percentage-point improvement in the U.S. over the past decade equates to approximately 8 million more workers who are engaged at work.

That’s 8 million more people who are energized to come to work each day and feel connected to and supported by their organization!

Read more about Gallup’s research on this topic.

6. Gallup learning courses and programs are proven to increase employee engagement.

Our most recent analysis shows that Gallup’s employee engagement clients who invested in Gallup’s learning programs realized an average of 14-percentage-point increase in the proportion of their workforce who were engaged compared with an average increase of eight percentage points in companies who did not invest in learning.

For a company of 1,000 employees, organizations that invest in Gallup courses see an average of $1.8 million in productivity gains due to increased employee engagement in the first year

7. CliftonStrengths — why you need to know all 34.

Our meta-analysis of 34 research studies and 187,291 individuals examined the impact of feedback for all 34 themes compared with feedback for top five CliftonStrengths themes only.

Those who received feedback on all 34 themes realized a net gain of:

  • 6 percentile points in employee engagement
  • 7.8% higher sales

8. You can’t create an agile company without great managers.

Agility is more than a buzzword. When a company is truly agile, it can respond more quickly to business needs.

Unfortunately, less than 20% of employees in France, Germany, Spain, the UK, and the U.S. say they work in an agile company.

So, what does it take to create an agile company? It takes a culture that has the right mindset, tools, processes — and managers.


9. Most employees experience burnout at work.

Burnout harms employee health, relationships, productivity and career development. And yet many employees regularly experience burnout on the job.

According to our analysis, 67% of employees say they are sometimes, very often or always burned out at work.

Those who very often or always experience burnout are:

  • 63% more likely to take a sick day
  • 23% more likely to visit the emergency room
  • 2.6 times as likely to leave their employer

Discover the top predictors of employee burnout.

10. Performance management is broken.

This year we’ve been sounding the alarm: Traditional performance management is broken.

Fewer than three in 10 employees in the U.S., U.K., Spain, France, and Germany strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.