Staff are on their long-yearned-for summer holidays and, when they return, they will be rested, refreshed and ready to hit the ground running – or so you think! The reality can be very different, with employees suffering from ‘Back To Work Blues’ that not only affect their performance but can often prompt them to leave.
These ‘Blues’ are manifest in a few indicators, not least being lowered motivation, increased anxiety and greater irritability towards colleagues. With employee wellbeing and engagement key to workplace contentment, countering these indicators is important if productivity is not to suffer in the long run and valued employees are not to be lost.
‘Back To Work Blues’ Is A Recognized Syndrome
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest Back To Work Blues are very real. But there has also been research done into the phenomenon, with some of the results so compelling that experts have categorized it as an actual syndrome – Post Vacation Syndrome (PVS).
Surveys in Spain, for example, where many workers take the month of August off, show that 35% to 75% of workers suffer from PVS, while a study of 96 workers in the Netherlands found that health and well-being benefits gained from time off can be lost after as little as just a week after the return to work.
Meanwhile, leading psychiatrists in Italy believe that, despite the absence of any official statistics, as much as 35% of that country’s population suffers from PVS, with those aged 25-45 the most susceptible.
Steps To Beat The Back To Work Blues
So how can a HR Department deal with this threat? Well, there are some simple ways to do so.
- Engage Your Employees
It does seem to be the magic ointment with which to treat any workplace malady, but there is no denying the positive impact that employee engagement has. And if employees are beginning to question their value at work, then there is no better way to make them feel valued and satisfied.
Arrange a meeting as soon after their return as practical, and have an open discussion with them. It’s a perfect situation to remind them of in-house career opportunities or more challenging projects in the pipeline that may interest them. Basically, let them know they are known and needed.
- Invite Them To Join A Wellbeing Initiative
Often, it’s the buzz of outdoor activity that enthralled employees while away on holiday. Perhaps they enjoyed walks along Mediterranean shores, through Alpine forests or adventures in even farther-flung places. It’s a good idea then to remind these returnees that an active life can be enjoyed here too (if your company hasn’t got an outdoor activities employee wellbeing programme, think seriously about introducing one!).
A personal invitation would be a nice touch; it’s not difficult to find out where employees have been and what they loved doing there – just talk to them.
- Send A Career Development Reminder
Similar to the first step, but this does not involve a face-to-face meeting. Instead, it’s a general notice, perhaps in the form of a newsletter, highlighting the opportunities within the company to develop a career.
Surveys have shown that employees can often see their job as a dead end when they return, prompting them to seek greener fields elsewhere. By simply pointing out there are green fields on their very doorstep, ambitions can be boosted and (in turn) performance levels increased.