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Boosting employee motivation after the summer holidays

Published: Wednesday 28th August 2019

The end of the summer holidays can be a difficult time. Many workers have the ‘holiday blues’ and this can affect employee motivation and productivity. In fact, studies have found that ‘Post Vacation Syndrome’ (PVS) is a real condition, affecting one in three workers with symptoms that include headache, anxiety, fatigue and, crucially for employers, lack of motivation.

Closeup of the hand of a man on the beach, in front of a folded beach umbrella and the ocean in the background, holding a stone with the text 'back to work' written in it

Summer holidays and workforce management

It’s on holiday too when many employees review their life goals, including their career options, resulting in many changing jobs. One study found that as many as 50% of UK workers consider a career change after a summer holiday.

Clearly, employers need to take account of this when it comes to workforce management. Indeed, there is much that can be done even before workers go on holiday. For instance, many employees become resentful if holiday leave is refused, so it’s important to make the scheduling of holiday leave as equitable as possible within the organisation. Every company should have an official staff leave policy and try to be flexible, so employees can take holidays when they want. There’s a much higher chance of an employee leaving the company on return from a holiday if that’s not when they wanted to go.

Businessperson Walking Out With Exit Sign On Wall

The end of the summer holidays is obviously a good time to look at ways of lifting morale and getting employees to refocus on organisational goals, so organise catch-up meetings, both for individual teams, as well as company-wide initiatives. A team-building day can be an excellent way to boost morale. Just make sure it’s something fun such as paintballing or another activity outside the office. At the same time, make sure it has value for the company and everyone is brought up to date on organisational goals.

Team Building Team Collaboration Concept

Put personal development plans in place to boost employee motivation

This is also a good time to begin, or revisit, the Personal Development Plans (PDP) of workers. By giving workers new career goals and objectives, you re-motivate them, which in turn leads to improved performance and productivity.

There are a few caveats, however. Make sure PDPs aren’t viewed as an appraisal or performance review. For organisations, the goal should be to make the best use of human resources and encourage workers to work to the best of their ability. For employees, they should demonstrate that the company is interested in making sure they are fulfilled at work and committed to their personal and career development goals. For these reasons, employees should play a big part in defining their own PDP objectives. Questions that need to be asked include:

  • What do you want to get out of work?
  • What are your strengths and where would you like to improve?
  • Where do you think you might be able to contribute best?
  • What’s preventing you from developing as you’d like?
  • What skills would you like to develop and what would enhance your work performance?

Group of ecstatic business partners looking at camera with raised arms

The next step is to match their answers with organisational goals and agree on objectives to achieve the best outcomes. These shouldn’t necessarily be task-based, but you do need to make sure the resources are available to help them achieve the goals, whether that includes training, mentoring or financial help for an external course. Schedule dates for review to make sure workers are on course to meet their objectives, updating the PDP where necessary.

Finally, to increase employee motivation it’s important for companies to ensure that employees take the holiday leave that’s due to them. There are very real health benefits to be had from time off, such as stress reduction, which can translate into higher productivity on the employee’s return.

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