As any working adult knows, the first day back at work after a long vacation is hardly as exciting as the first day of school. On the one hand, it’s great to see all your co-workers again and catch up. On the other, you quickly realise that you’re way behind on all the work that’s piled up in your absence.
Instead of a clean slate and a new beginning, you’re met with a stack of paperwork and grumpy coworkers who didn’t take a break themselves. Whether you’re starting a new job or just getting back into the swing of things after a long break, those first few days back can be tough.
Back to Work Mindset
The beginning of a new quarter is the perfect time to hit the reset button and start fresh. For leaders, this is an opportunity to leverage the renewed vigour of their staff. However, the reality is that it takes a while to shake off the holiday mood and get back to focusing on work. While holidays are invigorating and fun, they are also draining, which means returning employees might be intimidated by the volume of work waiting for them.
Taking a leaf out of your old school book, it’s nice to have activities that ease everyone back into a work mindset, highlighting the good aspects. By formulating a plan of action to get them to look forward to the quarter ahead, you can bring company and personal goals into focus in an exciting manner. This will help your team hit the ground running and make the most of the new year.
So you might be asking yourself, how do I as a leader positively and productively affect my team’s focus after returning back to work from vacation? Here are some suggestions that could help you get employees to regain focus after their vacation:
Make Space for Catch-up Time
Knowing you understand the importance of catch-up time will increase your employees’ engagement levels. They’re going to spend time doing it anyway; they might as well do it as a planned activity and you get some brownie points for it!
A couple of team lunches and designated catch-up time slots would liven up the first few days back with something to look forward to. Perhaps having no scheduled meetings for the first couple of days could also help, as it gives employees a more relaxed schedule.
Give Employees a Settling in Period
When your employees come back from vacation, the last thing they want is a deluge of emails from HR and other departments. To avoid this, try consolidating all your company news into one newsletter. This way, your employees can take a couple of days to catch up on their email without worrying about missing important updates.
Plus, by putting everything in one place, you’re more likely to get everyone’s attention. Just be sure to schedule the newsletter for a time when most people are likely to be at work, so it doesn’t get lost in the clutter.
Kill Two Birds With One Team Meeting
As the new year gets underway, it’s a great time to hold a team meeting to catch up with your employees and set some goals for the quarter. This will help everyone to focus on what’s important and ensure that everyone is on the same page. It’s also a great opportunity to get input from your team and get their buy-in for the upcoming quarter.
Employees value being valued, and by getting their input, you’ll show them that their ideas are important to the company. This will go a long way towards increasing motivation levels and ensuring that everyone is working towards the same goals.
Introduce a Wellness Programme
Implementing a wellness programme is a great way to show your employees you care and help them get back on track after the holidays. There are many benefits to having a wellness programme, including bringing employees together, making them feel cared for, addressing work-related stress, and improving their physical and mental health.
With most people looking to get back on track after holiday bingeing, a wellness programme is the perfect solution. You can create team-level competitions for wellness activities to boost team spirit and help employees reconnect after the break. And don’t forget to lead by example and participate in the programme yourself!
Time Employee Perks Smartly
It’s always tough getting back into the swing of things after a long break, but there’s no need to wait until later in the year to introduce new training opportunities or certifications. By launching these programmes now, you’ll give your employees something to look forward to and enough time to get results before the year ends, thus boosting work focus and improving productivity. Not only will this help them refocus more quickly, but it will also increase their satisfaction, motivation, and accountability.
Make It Personal
Depending on the size of your workforce, try to walk around and personally welcome everyone back or do it in groups. Feeling seen will give them added impetus to focus and get to work faster. You and your department heads could just pop into meetings and say welcome back; maybe not all at the same time though.
Welcoming your employees personally is an unexpected gesture that will generate a lot of positivity and help eliminate the back-to-work blues. It also massively boosts employee morale, engagement and motivation, which is always most welcome and has positively impacted bottom lines.
Implement An Open Door Policy
Good communication is essential for any workplace, and this is especially true when it comes to delicate topics like mental health. No one wants to feel like they’re being brushed off or that their concerns are unimportant.
It’s crucial to make HR business support available to encourage people to come and chat about any issues they may be facing. This way, you can help them get a handle on those issues and ensure they’re better placed to cope with returning to work.
Reverse the Roles
Put yourself in their shoes — what would make you feel happy to be back at work? What would help you focus more easily? That’s usually a good starting point when you’re stuck for ideas. Or, get a representative group of employees and ask them for suggestions. The fact that you care enough to ask will be a win in itself.
Most importantly, don’t forget what it felt like to be on that side of the table. As long as you stay connected with those expectations, you will find it easy to stay connected with your team.
As we enter the new year, the pressure builds up to set, renew, and achieve goals. The sooner you have a team cohesively working towards this shared vision, the better it is for everyone in the organisation.
Getting your employees to refocus in a manner that addresses everyone’s needs and shows everyone is valued and appreciated pays rich dividends for the organisation. Employees, in turn, get the satisfaction of knowing their presence, contribution, and effort are worth it. A win-win for individuals and organisations alike.