The holiday season has come to an end and employees have returned to work, but are they still in vacation mode? For many, the act of packing away holiday decorations and saying farewell to loved ones triggers feelings of lethargy and anxiety, making it hard to jump back into our daily routines.
Post-holiday blues are very real, especially in the workplace. Getting employees back into the swing of things after a vacation can be difficult, but recognizing the signs of a disengaged employee can help employers get them back on board.
Beat post-holiday blues by keeping an eye out for these four signs of employee disengagement and how to remedy them:
1. Lack of enthusiasm.
The season for gift-giving and holiday parties has ended, giving employees a little less to look forward to during the workweek. Having a lack of enthusiasm after the holiday season isn’t uncommon in employees, but it can have a negative effect on their quality of work. While disinterest and pessimism may only last a few days for some employees, for others it is not so short-lived.
Remedy: Holiday cheer doesn’t have to end with the holidays. Boost enthusiasm in the workplace after the holiday season has ended by giving employees something to look forward to or work toward, such as employee-related celebrations or a reduced workday. Creating something for employees to look forward to helps to build a positive work environment that motivates employees to perform at their best.
2. Distracted employees.
The holiday vacation might be over, but many still have vacation on the mind. Employees who are less focused on their daily tasks, take longer than usual to complete their assignments, or spend too much of their time at work socializing are likely still in vacation-mode.
Remedy: In an effort to help employees regain focus on their work, help employees set attainable goals for the new year. Have employees break up larger goals into smaller, more achievable goals. Working on several smaller projects rather than a few large projects is much less daunting and it allows employees to cross off more on their to-do lists.
Additionally, having employees spend the first few minutes of their day tidying up their workspace can also keep employees from being distracted. A messy workspace leads to equally messy thoughts, so encouraging organization at work is vital to maintaining focused employees.
3. Moody workers.
‘Tis the season for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression typically associated with the winter season when the days grow shorter and the sunlight is fleeting. A 2013 SLEEP study of about 50 day-shift workers found a strong association between workplace daylight exposure and office workers’ sleep quality, activity patterns and quality of life.
Remedy: To combat SAD during the winter months, as well as post-holiday blues, encourage employees to spend time outdoors. Allowing employees to take an occasional walk can help clear their minds and brighten their moods -- and do everyone some good after all of that holiday feasting.
4. Declining quality of work
Whether or not an employee is engaged is often evident in the quality of work they produce. Employees who fail to meet deadlines or produce work that is below par, especially when they are capable of more, are likely still in a post-holiday slump.
Remedy: Consider offering a professional development day early on in the new year. Providing employees with training and learning opportunities after the holiday season will refocus their attention on their work and get them back to peak performance well after the holiday excitement has died down.
In addition to employee development, implement employee recognition when possible. Recognizing employees for a job well done encourages them to continue doing what they do well. Whether that positive feedback takes the form of a healthy bonus or a simple “thank you,” acknowledging employees’ successes is essential to employee engagement.