- September 7, 2016
- Posted by: Catherine Youds
- Category: Blog
A recent survey carried out by Nationwide Building Society discovered that nearly 1 in 4 holidaymakers return from their break feeling more stressed than when they left. The responses indicated that whilst most of us think of a summer holiday as a time to relax and recuperate, the realities of taking some time out can often take their toll.
Overspending was one of the factors that caused people to fret, which is perhaps unsurprising during these tough economic times. When we don’t have the everyday pressures of life to think about, you can pretty much guarantee that the brain will find other worries to keep it occupied.
The research raises some big challenges for employers. You may anticipate that your staff will return to their roles raring to go after enjoying a summer holiday, but this is often not the case. In fact, the opposite can be true, and it’s really important that you consider how you can make their return altogether easier to manage.
A few carefully planned tactics and strategies could make all the difference, so if you want to ensure that your business doesn’t suffer, it’s time to think about how you’ll manage the situation.
In this guide, we provide five practical ideas for welcoming your staff back into the workplace. Assess which ones would be a great fit for your business, and consider how you can implement them.
Ensure that roles are suitably covered whilst staff are away from the office
The last thing that you want is to have your staff dreading coming back to work because they know that their inbox will be at bursting point, they’ll have messages from a hundred and one different people, they need to catch up with the work that they missed, and they need to do it all before 5pm the same day.
Managing holidays can be difficult when you’re running a business, and a flexible approach is often key. Consider how you can manage the rota so returning members of staff aren’t overwhelmed. You might be able to put another team member in charge of clearing out inboxes, or you may decide that it would be only fair to make sure that your staff aren’t penalised if they can’t ‘catch up’ as quickly as you might like.
Rather than focusing on smaller issues like a few days of lowered productivity, think about the bigger picture. Your staff should feel suitably supported when they come back to work, and that’s the only way that you’re going to create a happy and productive workforce.
Take the time to have a quick catch-up
A fortnight’s holiday can absolutely fly by when you’re sitting beachside, but two weeks in a place of work can seem much longer. Projects might have been completed, goalposts may have moved, and you might have even welcomed new members of staff to the team. It’s easy for those who have been away for a little while to feel like they’re returning to a completely different environment.
Make it part of your working processes to invite anyone who’s been on leave into your office to have a catch-up chat so you can brief them on anything that they may need to be aware of. Balance this by showing a genuine interest in their break and what they got up to.
This doesn’t have to be a long and drawn out affair. After all, your staff probably aren’t too keen to share their tales of how they spent their evenings dancing on tables after a few too many cocktails, or romancing a local waiter. A five-minute chat will generally suffice, and it can make all the difference to how your employees feel during their first few days back on the job.
Know the difference between post-holiday blues and more serious problems
Most of us have experienced the post-holiday blues, and they can certainly leave you feeling deflated for a couple of days whilst you ease yourself back into mundane reality. What’s important here is that you recognise and understand that there’s a big difference with feeling a little down, and suffering from mental health problems like depression and anxiety. ACAS estimates that £30 billion is lost each year due to these issues, so it may be time to start thinking about what you can do to combat the impact on your workplace.
Though employers, as a whole, are slowly starting to get better when it comes to handling these situations with sensitivity and proactivity, it can be hard to know what to do and how to initiate what may prove to be a difficult discussion.
There is plenty of support out there, so you certainly don’t have to manage on your own. If mental health is an issue in your workplace, it may be time to call in some extra help so you can develop a strategy for supporting your staff.
Recognise that your office doesn’t have to be all work and no play
Your staff are there to get a job done. That goes without saying. But introducing an element of fun into proceedings can really help to keep people on track and ensure that they feel like they’re part of something bigger. We spend a lot of time at work, and it can make a big difference if we’re encouraged to take part in some more social aspects of working life.
Think about what you could do to lighten the mood and raise spirits. You might want to consider the following:
- A team-building event
- After-work dinner or drinks
- Pizza Fridays, or a few drinks in the office on a Friday evening
- Recreational activities during the working day, such as an exercise class or language lessons
Gestures like this don’t have to cost you a fortune, and they could have a big impact on overall morale.
If you’re uncertain about what would work for your staff, ask them. Bring a cross-section of your workforce together, and ask for their opinions on what they feel would be a great fit for your workers. Take the feedback onboard, and act on it wherever possible. This type of informal consultation shows that you care about your staff, and are willing to go the extra mile to ensure that they’re happy and motivated.
Keep projects varied and interesting
There are elements of almost any job that are less desirable than others. It’s a simple fact of life that sometimes there will be tasks that need to be taken care of that are dull and boring. If your workers know that they’re returning to something that they actively dislike though, it’s bound to dampen their spirits.
Take this as an opportunity to reassess how you manage the distribution of various projects, and think about how you can ensure that everyone gets a fair chance to get involved with the more exciting activities. You may want to reassign certain members of staff so they get the chance to develop their skills in a different area, for example.
They say that variety is the spice of life, and it’s certainly true that shaking things up a little bit from time to time can inject some new excitement into your business. Keep your eyes open, and assess how the changes are received. It’s quite likely that you’ll discover that certain people really excel when they’re working on particular tasks, and you can definitely use that information to your advantage in the future.
It’s easy to underestimate the impact the summer holidays can have on your workforce and your business as a whole, but taking some timely action can help you to avoid problems and ensure that you stay on the right track.
Of course, having best practices embedded into your company culture and day-to-day working arrangements is essential if you want to make sure that you’re constantly making big progress when it comes to business goals and growth.
If you feel like your HR practices could do with an overhaul, we’d love to help. We offer a free consultation, and we’d be happy to answer any questions that you might have and assess how we could work together to get you firmly on the right track.
Get in touch today.