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Time Off Work: How To Motivate Your Employees After Taking Annual Leave

4 min read

We all know how hard it can be to get back into the flow of working after an extended period of time off work. Whether it’s a long Christmas break, characterised by the overindulgence of mince pies and mulled wine and Christmas festivities with family and friends. Or a well-needed family summer holiday. 

The post-holiday dip is a common phenomenon within the workplace, also coined the ‘holiday blues.’ Motivation is always low after Christmas, as employees feel like there is not much left to look forward to after the debauchery and overconsumption of Christmas. This year, January the 18th has been coined 2021’s ‘Blue Monday’; defined as the most depressing day in the year. The cold dark days mean less vitamin D, and as the season of celebration comes to an end and socialising diminishes, combined with the confrontation of a long list of tasks to undertake upon return, this can lead to a severe case of post-holiday blues. So, when the dreaded alarm goes off at 7 am on that cold Monday morning, it is frankly impossible not to feel unmotivated and lazy to get up and start your first day back. 

January is the perfect month to dedicate time and resources to re-engaging and stimulating your employees. In a 2016 Glassdoor study it was revealed that in the UK, January is the month when most people quit their jobs. Additionally, January always tends to be a slow month business-wise. Therefore, the post-Christmas holidays is the perfect time to dedicate to improving employee satisfaction and employee motivation, whilst in the meantime combatting the Christmas holiday blues. Within this article, we will discuss tips on ways HR professionals and managers can help their employees get out of a post-holiday funk after their time off work and get back to being their most productive and dedicated selves. 

time off work

Take Time to Welcome Everyone Back after Time off Work

Sometimes it can take over a week for employees to get their motivation back and get back into the swing of working 9-5 days. This is why it is important managers face the problem head-on and devise a plan to jumpstart employee motivation levels, to begin the new year on a productivity high. 

Therefore, it is important to welcome every employee back from their time off work. By personally greeting them on their return, it shows them how valuable they are to the company. Additionally, managers should highlight their accomplishments over the previous year. This will help encourage employees to keep working hard and stay dedicated. 

Organise Some Team Building Activities

One of the hardest things about coming back from the Christmas break is the feeling that all of the fun is over and there is no longer anything to look forward to. This can be an incredibly daunting feeling. Especially when it feels like what lies ahead is nothing but cold and dark days filled with work and not much else. However, to overcome this sometimes overbearing feeling, it is a good idea for managers to schedule a meeting where all employees can gather together over a coffee (or more likely over zoom given the current circumstances) and discuss their annual leave and any plans they have for the coming year. This will gradually ease workers back into the working mindset after an extended period of time off work. Therefore making their first day that little bit less daunting. 

time off work

Communicate the Benefits of Coming Back After Time off Work

It is a good idea to send out a welcome back email before employees’ first day back. This email should aim to motivate workers to want to come back. It could include the exciting upcoming projects the company will be undertaking or any future events set to take place. 

It is also a nice idea to remind employees about the joys associated with going back to work, even though they probably won’t be feeling very joyous at the time. Managers could do this in the form of an email. This could highlight the benefits that come with being back in contact with fellow employees. The advantages of getting back into a structured routine, which can also bring stability. As well as the chance to go back and make an impact on something they feel passionate about. 

Enhance Team Morale

A study conducted by Peldon Rose revealed that 83% of employees see their colleagues as friends. Those relationships are important, as they stimulate employee motivation. As a manager, you should monopolise on this and organise a (remote) group activity to inspire productivity among your employees.

Emphasise the Greater Purpose of Their Work

When employees embark on their first day of time off work, their work-related worries tend to fly away, as they aim to put it to the back of their mind to make the most of their holidays. However, one of the hardest things about coming back is the return of all those concerns arising once again. This is one of the main reasons why the first day back to work can be so daunting.

Therefore, managers and HR leaders should present themselves as a support network. There to address any issues or worries their employees may have. The manager should constantly remind their staff that everything they’re working so hard on is to accomplish their personal goals, all for a greater purpose which will all eventually prove worthwhile. 

Set Clear Goals

Help employees set clear and achievable goals for what they want to achieve in the coming months or years. This will not only motivate them but also give them a sense of satisfaction when they achieve their targets. This also contributes to employee satisfaction; a vital facet of employee motivation. 

Additionally, managers can motivate their employees by setting them on a development plan. This could include tasks that offer them more responsibility and ways to expand their skill set. You could also consider introducing a rotor of tasks between employees. This will give them the opportunity to develop their competency in different sectors. As well as making their role a bit more varied and less repetitive. Which in the process could work to drive them to get back into their routine. 

Show Motivation after Time Off Work

As a manager, your employees will inevitably look up to you and go to you for guidance. Take advantage of this opportunity and lead by example. Motivation is infectious, so by showing your excitement for your return to work, it will invariably rub off on the rest of the staff, and help them get over their post-holiday slump. 

Tips for HR managers 

It’s important as an HR manager that you feel rested and enthusiastic about coming back to work yourself. You will not be able to encourage and motivate your employees if you do not feel motivated yourself. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup. So whilst it is still important to be there actively supporting your employees. The first step is to make sure you feel positive and supported.


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