How HR Can Help Employees Avoid and Cope With Post-vacation Blues

Categories: Advice for HR Professionals

The holiday season is typically when many employees take a long time off to see their friends and families. When they return, they may experience what’s called post-vacation blues. Employees feeling this may see their performance suffering due to a lack of motivation. 

Post-vacation blues can affect anyone, though there are ways to avoid or cope with it so that transitioning back to the work mindset will be smoother. Remember that what they are experiencing is normal, and as HR professionals, you must extend your empathy and help them deal with it to keep your organization’s operations running smoothly. 

First, we need to understand post-vacation blues and their symptoms.

What is Post-Vacation Blues?

While not a clinical term, post-vacation blues are a period after a vacation when a person has feelings of depression. To them, the fun is over, and it’s time to return to their sometimes repetitive and boring routines. The symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating on tasks
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of motivation
  • Dreading going back to work
  • Intense sadness
  • Researching their next trip
  • Quiet quitting

All these symptoms can impact an employee’s productivity and make it harder to get them to complete tasks. However, it’s important to remember that both on-site and remote workers can feel this way even if they work from home.

While you want them to start being productive again, berating can further demotivate them and even worsen the symptoms. Having demoralized staff will not get any work done, and they may even start quiet quitting or doing the bare minimum. 

Here are seven tactics HR can try to help employees avoid or cope with post-vacation blues.

7 Ways HR Can Help Employees Cope with Post-vacation Blues

You can do these actions to slowly break your employees out of their rut and return to routine.

1. Have your offices cleaned over the holidays

A study has shown that a messy work or home space can impact a person’s mood. Clutter can stress out an employee and prolong the state of depression. A clean and open environment, however, is more inviting and gives a sense of relaxation.

Cleaning your office while your employees are away is not only more efficient, but it can also serve as a surprise gift for your staff once they come back to the office. It’s like welcoming them to a fresh start. You can have the carpets cleaned, take out scattered papers, and ensure spotless desks. 

If you have offshore or remote workers, you can recommend that they have their houses cleaned before they leave for vacation. That way, they are treated with the same fresh start when they return home.

2. Create a welcoming environment

The benefits of nature can be brought to the office, as proven by research. Viewing plant life can lower stress, so you can get small plants into the office or even settle with some pictures or paintings. 

You can tickle the other senses by having some floral scents in the air or entice employees with the smell of food. You can also provide healthy food options once a week to lift your employees’ spirits and give them a short time to relax. Make sure those working remotely can experience this too.

3. Be compassionate during employees’ transition days

As previously mentioned, bearing down your employees will only worsen the problem. Instead, exercise compassion by asking managers not to push their staff too hard for the next few days. You can also begin asking them to share their experiences. It shows that you care and are concerned for their well-being. 

You can schedule group zoom calls to connect teams and have them tell stories while asking how they feel. That way, you can get a handle on everyone’s mindsets and have an open dialogue to get them primed for the work weeks ahead. 

4. Arrange short recap meetings

Employees experiencing post-vacation blues are still checked-out from anything work-related. Aside from being compassionate and checking in on everyone, you can speak to each team’s leads and arrange short recap meetings. These can be in the form of group huddles or Zoom calls to include offshore workers.

Recap meetings can remind employees of tasks with closer deadlines or let them share progress reports. These short meetings can also serve as a small break or catching-up session. Having these will bring them back to the work mindset.

5. Encourage employees to use their EAP privileges

An Employee Assistant Program (EAP) serves to help employees going through difficult times by providing counseling or other forms of assistance. Many companies have an EAP as part of their employee benefits. Your offshore staff can also have these privileges through online conferences.

Encourage employees to use the company’s EAP to cope with post-vacation blues. It’s a form of mental health care and will contribute to their overall wellness. They cannot only have counseling regarding stress but also support for traumatic events, family concerns, and networking.

6. Manage workloads for the first few days

Since employee productivity levels are down, for the time being,  you can ask leads to assign small, more manageable tasks for the first few days after the vacation to help ease your employees back into the work mindset. 

Bombarding them with many duties with unrealistic deadlines will further dishearten those still recovering from their vacation blues. As they slowly get used to the routine of work again, you can bring back their regular workload.

7. Give your employees something to look forward to

Continuing the fun prevents employees from dreading going back to work. You can do this by organizing an event they can look forward to, such as company lunches or team-building activities. If it’s after the holidays, you can schedule a New Year’s party with gift-giving. Having future events will keep up the excitement as they adjust.

Care Helps Cure Post-Vacation Blues

While there is often no avoiding the blues, as HR, you are responsible for keeping employees productive and happy. Show that you care by organizing events, asking how their vacations went, and making the office atmosphere relaxing with plants or scents.

Offshore and remote employees can lower the costs of maintaining the office atmosphere, though remember that even they need the care to avoid post-vacation blues. 

If you need help finding new employees, may they be remote or offshore workers, you can look into a recruitment agency in the Philippines. Manila Recruitment can help you set this up in no time. Contact us today.