Many employees experience a decline in motivation after holidays, likely related to the abrupt switch from a relaxed holiday setting to a demanding work environment.
As the holiday season winds down, employees typically fall into one of two modes. First, there are those who, after a day or two of holiday downtime, become restless and eager to return to work. Often, these individuals are deeply engaged in their jobs and find a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their work activities. Returning to work post-holiday is often a welcome return to structure, routine, and relief from the boredom of “doing nothing”.
In contrast, a significant number of people find it challenging to re-engage with work after the holidays. This group might struggle with the abrupt transition from a relaxed holiday mindset to the structured demands of the workplace. In this post, we discuss how to support the slow to warm up employee. This return-to-work period also offers employers and human resource professionals an opportunity to observe and re-assess the organization’s employee engagement strategies. You can respond to the post-holiday “blahs” in a way to achieve longer term benefits for your employees and your organization.
Recognizing the Post-Holiday Challenges
Post-holiday, many employees experience difficulty during the initial return to work phase. This difficulty is sometimes referred to as a “motivational dip” and is associated with several potential factors. We will focus on three of those factors. Understanding that this “dip” is a natural response to transitioning from a holiday mode to a work mode is important as it may affect managers as well as team members. A thoughtful and planned response can lead to less work disruption and better long-term motivation and engagement for all employees.
- Disrupted Routines: Holidays significantly disrupt daily routines. Employees may struggle to readjust their sleep patterns, work habits, and personal routines, impacting their work performance.
- Emotional Adjustments: Holidays can be emotionally charged times. Employees might be dealing with feelings of sadness after parting with family and friends or stress from the holiday season. These emotions can linger, affecting focus and productivity.
- Anticipation of Workload: The thought of returning to a backlog of work,a high pressure task, and/or impending deadlines can be daunting, leading to feelings of being overwhelmed and a temporary reduction in motivation.
Strategies for Employers to Ease the Transition
Individuals with high job satisfaction, high work engagement, or who find their work activities highly rewarding will likely need less support re-engaging after a holiday. However, they and the organization may still benefit from some of the same strategies that their struggling team members need. Consider these strategies:
- Gradual Workload Increase: Allow a gradual ramp-up period for employees. Starting with a lighter workload or more personal choice in what to tackle first can help ease the transition back to regular work intensity.
- Acknowledgment and Support: Openly acknowledge the challenges of post-holiday adjustments. Providing a platform for employees to share their experiences can foster a supportive environment.
- Flexible Scheduling: If feasible, offer flexible working hours or the option to work remotely in the first week back. This can help employees manage their time better as they readjust their routines.
- Re-establishing Routines: Encourage team leaders to reintegrate regular meetings and check-ins, helping employees settle back into their professional rhythms.
- Clear Communication of Expectations: Help employees prioritize their tasks and set realistic goals for the first few weeks back. This can reduce feeling overwhelmed and help gradually build up their workload.
- Emotional Support: Consider offering resources for emotional support, such as access to counseling services or wellness programs. Promoting a healthy work-life balance is key.
- Team Building Activities: Organize team-building activities or casual get-togethers to reignite the team spirit and foster a sense of belonging and community.
- Recognition and Incentives: Implementing recognition programs or incentives can boost morale. Recognizing efforts and achievements, even small ones, can significantly uplift employee motivation.
- Creating a Positive Work Environment: Foster a positive and supportive work environment. Celebrate small wins and provide positive feedback to help boost morale and motivation.
The transition back to work after the holidays is a challenge that employers and human resource professionals can navigate with care and understanding. Many employees experience a “motivational dip” after holidays, likely related to the abrupt switch from a relaxed holiday setting to a demanding work environment. This transition can carry an emotional weight, particularly when it involves leaving behind cherished moments with family and friends and preferred activities.
Employers can significantly ease this transition with a measured approach, where employees are not immediately burdened with heavy workloads. Allow for a gradual increase in work responsibilities, coupled with flexible schedules or remote work options during this initial return period. These modest concessions can help employees re-adjust their routines and their mindsets with less distress.
Additionally, check-ins and open acknowledgment of post-holiday adjustment challenges can foster a sense of community and understanding in the workplace. Ensuring that the workplace ethos resonates with the personal values of employees can prevent feelings of disconnection and dissatisfaction. It’s important for employers to encourage and respect an employee’s work-life balance.
Navigating the post-holiday period requires a comprehensive and empathetic approach from employers. Fortunately the strategies to effectively address the employee post-holiday motivational dip are very similar to the strategies to boost employee engagement in general. So this approach not only addresses the immediate issue, but also contributes to the overall health and success of employees and thus the organization all year long.