Motivate staff to kick post-holiday blues

As the rain sets in, many employees are reluctantly returning to work after their summer holiday.

With many staff struggling to get back into working mode, the debate over how employers should motivate staff to kick the post-holiday blues is underway.

Leading commentators on the issue have differing views on how employers should combat the inertia and sluggishness that sometimes accompanies employees back to work.

Speaking to the Financial Times, John Moulton, founder of private equity firm Better Capital, said: “Hard work never killed anybody and there is no danger of [employees] testing that today. So get your act together. Put the lights back on in your office, retrieve the untouched in-tray you dumped into your colleague’s tray and stop the low moaning noise.”

Adopting a more diplomatic approach, Stephen Brooks, a specialist in people management and organisational change at PA Consulting, said managers should give employees meaningful work to do when they get back for their holidays.

“A back-to-work inbox is filled with activities of doubtful value. This only reminds us of how much of our working life is spent unproductively. We see that the organisation has survived pretty well without us, raising the ‘do I matter?’ question. Managers can counter this by delegating particularly important and challenging tasks to people as soon as they return to work.”

Meanwhile, Rita McGrath, an associate professor at Columbia Business School, said: “Post-holiday is emotional and requires an emotional response. Break the re-entry into three stages: catching up, letting go, and moving on. The catching up stage for many employees can induce despair.”

McGrath also suggested employers should encourage staff to reflect on things they learnt on holiday that they could use in their working life. However, those that have just got back from a week of partying in Ibiza may struggle to do this.