How to lift employees out of the post-holiday blues

How to lift employees out of the post-holiday blues

It’s that time of year when your employees’ thoughts may naturally turn to summer holidays, lie-ins, getting their Saturdays back and freedom from worrying about sales targets for a blissful few weeks.

Let’s face it, the thought of a well-deserved holiday is often all that keeps us slogging away through the long, dark days of a wet and miserable winter.

But once your employees have returned, tanned and rested, how do you avoid them being hit by the inevitable post-holiday slump?

You will, I’m sure, recognise the tell-tale signs: low productivity, increasingly implausible ‘sickies’ and rumblings of discontent.

So what can you do about it? Well, real life is never going to match up to a dream holiday so there can be no quick fix, but these tips will go a long way towards easing your employees’ path back into productive work mode:

  • First, show some interest in their holiday

This may sound obvious but you’d be surprised how many employers ignore the fact that their employee has just been away and get straight down to business. On an employee’s first day back, it’s a very human thing for you, as a manager, to do and shows you value the individual as a person, not just as a money-making machine.

  • Secondly, show how much they are needed

This doesn’t mean dumping the huge pile of work on their desk that has built up over the past fortnight – or an urgent task no one else could be bothered to tackle and which is now needed by tomorrow. Instead, have a short catch-up meeting to update them on what’s been going on in the business and any events coming up that may involve them so they know they were missed and that what they do is appreciated.

  • Structure their first day back in the office

After a restful break with nothing more complex to consider than their choice of cocktail, the first day back in the office can be a daunting prospect. Draw up a To Do list and suggest a loose timetable for the first day back. This could start with responding to emails and returning calls to get them back in the swing of things. Then guide them towards the most pressing project they need to start on. In this way, they will feel valued and supported, rather than overloaded.

  • Set work priorities

Break down work into manageable chunks and set realistic deadlines to keep them motivated and focused on the task in hand. (Instilling a sense of urgency will also discourage excessive holiday reminiscing!)

  • Train them in a new skill

Often, the thought of returning to the same old routine can be depressing. To combat this, it could be useful to train the employee in something new – an unfamiliar computer system or aspect of their role currently handled by another member of the team. This will not only give the returning employee the challenge of something new (and potentially interesting) to become absorbed in, but will also reduce your dependence on the one member of staff who already knows how to do it.

It’s common to feel when an eagerly-awaited annual holiday is over, that there’s nothing left to look forward to. Obviously, even the most bountiful employer cannot afford to hand out free holidays for all, but you can address this feeling in a small way by organising a popular team night out for a week’s time, giving the employee – and the rest of the team – something to look forward to.

The resulting camaraderie will also remind your employee of the close relationships they have developed within the team – and, after all, one of the main reasons they choose to stay.

How to lift employees out of the post-holiday blues