“[Employees] can definitely feel sombre leaving behind the vacation life and going back to work,” says Peter Hart, CEO of rewards and recognition giant Rideau. “After taking time off from work, it can be a struggle getting back into the swing of things.”
According to Montreal-based Hart, the despair and disruption is particularly concentrated at this time of year.
“Since most people take vacations during the summer, when the weather is nicer and the kids are out of school, September can be hard time for managers to keep their employees motivated and engaged,” he told HRM. “It is easy to find yourself with an office full of people who don’t want to be there.”
However, Hart – who’s been with Rideau for over thirty years – says employers aren’t powerless to help.
“Managers should recognize that it is possible for their workforce to collectively ‘have the blues’ after vacation and prepare ahead of time for the challenge,” he told HRM. “Most people will take a few days to get back in the swing of things, so anything a manager can do to speed up the process will be welcomed.”
The veteran CEO offered the following advice to any employers looking to ease the back-to-work transition period for disgruntled employees:
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- Do everything possible to ensure the employee will come back to work with as clean a desk as possible. Shifting some of the employee’s responsibilities will lighten the load and make for a faster and more enthusiastic start to returning to work. Surprising an employee with less work than they thought would be waiting for them is sure to put a smile on their face.
- Before leaving make sure the employee has their “out of office” message activated on their email and voicemail with the date of their return so clients or customers will know what to expect and not be testy upon the employee’s return.
- When it comes to tackling work upon return from a vacation, managers should encourage employees to pick the most pressing items first and slowly chop away at the pile over the next week or two. To sit down and try to tackle everything at once can be very overwhelming and paralyzing to most people.
- There is no hard and fast rule that says you have to return from vacation on a Monday. Sometimes returning on a Thursday or Friday (or whichever is the slower days of the week in your industry) instead of Monday can make more sense and an easier transition for the employee.
- If you have a specific employee that seems to be really struggling with the return from vacation, acknowledging the problem and offering counselling resources your company or community may have available could be just what they need get them back on track.
- Have employees bring in souvenirs or items that represent the places they’ve been and play a game to have all employees guess the places. The one employee who guesses the most correctly can win something fun like lunch on the boss.
The CEO of a leading HR service provider has warned the next few weeks could be harder than most as September signals the end of summer and, ultimately, many employees’ vacations.