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Time Off Work: Motivating Your Employees After a Break

We all know how hard it can be to get back into the flow of working after an extended period of time off work. Especially after a long Christmas break, characterized by the overindulgence of eggnog or mulled wine.

The post-holiday dip is a common phenomenon within the workplace, also coined the ‘holiday blues.’ Motivation is always low after Christmas, as employees are left feeling like there is not much left to look forward to. The fact that festivities were more subdued this year has only deepened the January doldrums.

This year, January the 18th has been coined 2021’s ‘Blue Monday’; defined as the most depressing day in the year. The cold dark day not only means less vitamin D but also the confrontation of a long list of tasks that still need doing. So is it any wonder we have come down with a severe case of post-holiday blues? When the dreaded alarm goes off at 7 am on that cold Monday morning, it is frankly impossible not to feel unmotivated. 

The good news is that with everyone down in the dumps, January is the perfect month to dedicate time and resources to re-engaging your employees. It has been said that January is the most popular month for quitting your job. As January also tends to be a slow month business-wise, it is the perfect time to invest in employee satisfaction and employee motivation and combat the post-holiday blues. In 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. 

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Take time to welcome everyone back

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. To face the problem head-on, managers must devise a plan to jumpstart employee motivation levels and kick that low energy into high productivity. 

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. In COVID times, this may mean sending a personal message or having a short meeting to check back in. Additionally, managers should highlight each employee’s accomplishments over the previous year. This will help encourage employees to keep working hard and stay dedicated. 

Organize team reorientation activities

One of the hardest things about coming back from a long break is the feeling that all of the fun is over and there is no longer anything to look forward to. This can be incredibly daunting. 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 holidays and any plans they have for the coming year. This will ease workers back into the working mindset after their time off work.

Communicate the benefits of coming back

It is a good idea to send out a welcome back email before employees’ first day back. Emphasize exciting upcoming projects and future events in order to get employees excited about the future!

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. Highlight the benefits that come with being back in contact with fellow employees. The advantages of getting back into a structured routine and the opportunity once again have 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 organize a (remote) group activity to inspire productivity among your employees.

Emphasize the greater purpose of their work

When employees have time off work, their work-related worries tend to fly away, as they make the most of their holidays. Thus, 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.

Managers and HR leaders must offer a support network and be there to address any issues or worries their employees may have. Managers should remind their staff that each employee’s personal goals are contributing toward a greater purpose. 

time off work

Set clear goals

Help employees set clear and achievable goals for what they want to achieve in the coming months or year. 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. It will also help to make their role a bit more varied and less repetitive. Which in the process could work to drive them to get back into their routine. 

Lead by a good example 

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! Your excitement for your return to work will rub off on the rest of the staff. 

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 while it is still important to be there actively supporting your employees, the first step is to make sure you feel positive and supported yourself. Learn more about how to support your staff through our latest webinar on the importance of HR managers practicing emotional intelligence.

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This post is also available in English UK.

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