- Battling the back-to-work blues

For many employers, September can be the most dreaded month of the year.

Back-to-work blues after the summer holidays can lead to a decrease in productivity and enthusiasm, with 55.8% of employees believing workplace morale lowers toward the end of summer (CV Library). So, what can you do to lift the morale and get your employees back on track?

Listen to them

Some people find a holiday a wonderful break from routine giving them time to recharge their batteries and prepare themselves for their next challenge. For others, it can be a time of reflection and contemplation and highlight concerns about what the future holds. Either way it is worth really listening to your staff when they return from holiday.

It may be as simple as listening to their holiday experiences and looking at photos of their trip, sharing in their enthusiasm and memories; we all know people that return from holiday and need to tell you every detail of their trip! Let them share for a period of time; it will help them feel valued and more inclined to get back to their tasks. Feeling appreciated and valued can act as a strong motivator for employees.

Have one-on-one meetings

70.1% of employees find it difficult to get back into a routine after the summer holiday, with many suggesting it takes a good couple of days to “get back into work” post-holiday (CV Library). It can help if you set up a one-on-one meeting with them to help gets tasks and objectives set and prioritised. This will help them know what to focus on to get back into a routine.

However; their holiday may have highlighted a need for a shift in their working routine or responsibility. A one-on-one will also offer a private setting enabling an employee to discuss a variation in their working time, perhaps short term to support their child settling at a new school, long term with the reduction of hours or a sabbatical for a matter of months to help them focus on ‘what they really want to do’. It also allows an employee the opportunity to discuss any concerns they have i.e. lack of challenge in their job role or limited noticeable career opportunities within the company. It opens communication between both parties to discuss courses that may support progression or ways to decrease workloads if this has mounted up unmanageably over time. These matters shouldn’t be ‘saved’ for the annual review; discussing it earlier will assist with productivity levels.

Incentivise

Do you have a ‘reward programme’? 86.9% of employees believe it is an employer’s responsibility to keep morale high (CV Library). You can do this by using incentives. This doesn’t have to be monetary. Treating them to lunch, drinks, issuing vouchers… a little something that shows you understand how they are feeling and are willing to spend a little bit of time investing in them, also making them more inclined to get back to feeling motivated. You should never forget that sometimes a simple “well done” or “thank you” as recognition for good work can make a big difference to morale.

But what if the holiday blues are deeper rooted, perhaps the low morale is masking an underlying issue such as workplace stress and anxiety. It may be worth considering offering staff access to wellbeing services such as relaxation courses or counselling sessions to help them learn coping skills to support their working life.

Start thinking ahead

The end of the summer doesn’t have to mean the end of an exciting year. As a company re-focus minds in the present and future rather than the past; whether it is planning for your Christmas party or an awards ceremony or the next team event that you might have coming up.

The main thing is to acknowledge how your employees are feeling; 79.4% of employees believe their employer does not make allowances for post summertime blues (CV Library). By acknowledging their feelings and doing at least one thing to show you appreciate them, you will help beat the back-to-work blues and create determined, enthused employees.