How to drive away post-holiday blues

Employers have to do their bit to shake their employees out of the holiday mood, so that their sluggishness does not affect productivity and motivation levels.

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Holidays are always welcomed by employees as a break to rest, relax and rejuvenate. But it is not easy to snap out of the holiday stupor. After all, the mind and body have disconnected from work, office, meetings, targets, e-mails and the works. To rev the brain and heart and make them focus on work may be easier said than done.

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Not surprisingly, the first few working days after a long weekend or festive holidays, especially the New Year, may be dreaded by the employers as well as the employees. The former have to put up with a sluggish, disinterested and often depressed workforce, whereas the latter have to struggle to put the days of relaxation and enjoyment far behind them and concentrate on work. This is the time when employers need to think of ways to re-engage their staff. Here are some simple ways to do so:

Save the gifting for after the holidays: It is common practice for organisations to announce bonuses, rewards, and distribute gifts just before the holiday season. But it is a good idea to save the gifts, or at least a part of them—may be an announcement that employees have been looking forward to—for later. This will give the employees something to cheer about and look forward to after the holidays.

Organise a get-together: A post-holiday season get-together is a great idea for employees to meet, interact, and share their experiences in a casual way. In fact, employers should not wait for occasions to organise parties. Small get-togethers, especially impromptu ones, should keep happening all year round. These are welcome distractions for the employees and keep their enthusiasm levels high.

Organise competitions: Competitions can be announced to keep employees engaged through the festive season, and what is more, the ones who went on holiday will also look forward to returning to work. For instance, a prize can be announced for the best photograph that captures the spirit of Diwali or Christmas. The staff can be asked to post their pictures on the website or e-mail them to HR. This will not only bring out the creativity of the staff but will find them returning from a holiday with more excitement. All the entries could be put up on display for everyone to see. Similarly, prizes can be given to the best festive attire, which will give an opportunity to employees to get themselves clicked in their best dresses.

Surprise them: When employees drag themselves to work half-heartedly, only to find a surprise waiting for them at their desks, it can charge them up. This could be in the form of a vase of flowers, a box of chocolates, a picnic announcement, a gift voucher, a personalised coffee mug or even a note of appreciation for their work.

Reinforce your employment brand: Get the staff members to come up with a line describing what they like best about the organisation. This not only results in employees introspecting, but is a great way of obtaining feedback.

Get each department to organise a theme party: Provide an opportunity to all departments/functions of the organisation to take turns to organise a theme party at regular intervals, say every month, where the entire workforce is invited. Get the employees to rate the best party. This brings out the organising skills in everyone and makes them think out of the box.

Interact face-to-face: After the holidays, most employees will probably have innumerable e-mails to read and respond to. Therefore, instead of adding to their woes, communicate with them personally, face-to-face rather than through mails. Give them an update personally, and spend some time with them to bring them up to speed. This will not only ease their load but also help them tackle the pending work faster.

Set long-term goals: Help your employees look at the big picture. Getting back to work does not mean re-organising the desk, clearing the clutter and replying to e-mails alone. While these tasks can be overwhelming and exhausting, it is important to ensure that the employees do not lose focus from their primary goals. Sit with them and remind them of their long-term goal(s), make them see their career path.

Make their workload manageable: Ensure that the employees are given small, doable and manageable tasks to be performed within a realistic time frame. Unrealistic deadlines only serve to demotivate the already sluggish employees who are yet to recover from the holiday hangover.

Workplaces should be places that employees look forward to returning to — not just every morning, or every Monday, but after every holiday. It is up to the employers to keep them motivated and engaged.

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