Thursday, 11 August 2016

Welcome Back: helping your staff get up to speed after the summer break


Over the next few weeks, as people return to work en masse from their summer holidays, you might imagine that they’ll be feeling refreshed, renewed, invigorated, and raring to go. Some of them probably will.  But however great your workplace, most people returning from a long break are likely to be a little lethargic and unmotivated, even a little grumpy..... A recent survey on found that only 7% don't get some sort of back-to-work blues. And another survey found that nearly a quarter of holidaymakers return from their break feeling more stressed than when they left - mostly because they've overspent.

So more than likely, the end of summer holidays will have an impact on your workforce and your business as a whole before everything ramps back up again. In smaller companies, where there’s often little spare capacity and every role is a vital one, it’s even more important that every member of staff returning from holidays quickly regains their productivity.    

The good news is that there’s plenty you can do to ease people back to work and this often involves little more than common sense actions and simple processes.  Here are some practical ideas:  which ones would be a great fit for your business, and how you can implement them?

 1             Handover before the holiday

 A holiday won’t stand a chance of reinvigorating anyone if they have an underlying anxiety about facing chaos on their return. There’s little more demotivating than going on holiday in the certain knowledge that nothing will done in your absence and that you’ll come back to a large amount of urgent work and a mountain of unanswered emails.

Before each person goes on their long holiday, make sure there has been a thorough handover of their work. It might help if they write a handover list with all outstanding tasks that must be completed while they’re away and key “how to’s”, so you can make sure these are delegated to other colleagues to pick up. Another idea is to arrange for other team members to manage the person’s email inbox, and forward all phone calls.

 2       A quick catch-up on return

 A fortnight’s holiday can fly by when you’re chilling out, but two weeks in a place of work can seem much longer. Projects might have been completed, goalposts may have moved, and new members of staff may even have joined the team. It’s easy for those who have been away for a little while to feel disorientated – and this will affect their focus and productivity.   

Make it an automatic part of your working style to invite anyone who’s been on a fortnight’s leave into your office for a catch-up chat on their return so you can brief them on everything they 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.

One way of restoring enthusiasm and getting people going again is to save up a particularly interesting task, or frankly, a nice treat, for their return.

This one-to-one is a good opportunity to give some leadership. Some employees always dread coming back to work because they know (they say to themselves) that their inbox will be at bursting point with messages from a hundred and one different people, they need to catch up with all the work that they missed, and they need to do it all before 5pm the same day. Nip that in the bud with a well-planned handover beforehand and refocusing on what’s really important when the person returns.

3       Cut some slack

Managing holidays can be difficult when you’re running a business, and a flexible approach is often key.

Accept that productivity is likely to be lower during the person’s first days back, and plan accordingly. Allow additional time for catching up on emails, phone calls, and other communication – and to have a reverse handover with whoever carried out their most important tasks while they were away.

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.

4       Lighten the mood  

Introducing an element of fun into proceedings at exactly the right time, to head off a post-holiday slump, can really help to keep people on track and ensure that they feel like they’re part of something bigger.
Think about what you could do to lighten the mood and raise spirits. You might want to consider:
  • After-work dinner or drinks
  • Recreational activities during lunchtime, such as running or meditation.
  • A baking competition
Gestures like this don’t have to cost you a fortune, and they could have a big impact on overall morale. Ask your staff what would work for them. Informal consultation shows that you care about your staff, and are willing to go the extra mile to ensure they’re happy and motivated.

If you want to make sure that you’re constantly making big progress when it comes to business goals and growth, heading off potential issues like this is essential.  At the Human Resource we can help you embed best practices into your company culture and day-to-day working arrangements.  We’d be happy assess how we could work together to get you firmly on the right track.
Get in touch today on 07884 475303. Or download our free E-book, "Everything you need to know about employee holidays" for the lowdown on applying fair rules consistently, safeguarding your company against legal claims and rebooting productivity after a long break.


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