10 Ideas to Escape The Post-Holiday Blues In Your Workplace

It’s January. The entire new year lies ahead, dripping with opportunity and possibility. Your business is well positioned for growth; the team has enjoyed a replenishing end of year break; healthy new year’s resolutions have been locked in; and the problems of the world seem so 2018.

So, why is everyone so totally unmotivated?

It’s all down to the dreaded post-holiday blues. This energy sapping, productivity killing phenomena has derailed many a business trying to kick off a new year, but the good news is that there are a range of ways you can combat it and get everyone firing on all cylinders again. We’ve compiled a list of 10 ideas to help get morale back up to where it belongs.

1. Start With The Simple Stuff

Cleaning up the workplace is a great way to start getting things back on track. It’s amazing how much a difference a clean and tidy desk (that doesn’t have piles of folders and documents filling up the in tray) can have on the psyche.

Do a digital refresh by cleaning out the junk on your laptop, getting rid of old apps, clearing caches, organising emails and running any updates you need on your software. Delete or store any large or old files to give yourself some memory space so you’re not hamstrung by slow speeds (nothing sinks your mood faster than the old spinning wheel of death).

2. Celebrate The Return

According to Rebecca Fraser, Career Development Association Australia National Executive Committee Member, workplaces are filled with celebrations pre-Christmas, and are extremely busy at this time on an operational and social level - and that is what can really engage the team.

Says Rebecca, “They want to get things done so they can enjoy the break, knowing that they will come back refreshed. But, then they come back - to nothing.”

Rebecca’s suggestion is to consider how you can create a celebration that acknowledges the start of something new, the start of a new year, new opportunities, and new challenges to address.

“Celebrate the fact that people have returned and create an environment of something to look forward to,” she advises.  

3. Acknowledge The Reality

Rebecca also says that as much as it would be great to expect everyone to return refreshed, all businesses know that there will be a level of dissatisfaction in returning from a holiday period.

“Sometimes just acknowledging the reality of the return, and asking the team members how you may be able to support them through this, is enough to re-engage them in the work environment.” 

4. Plan Some Fun

Getting the team together for some quality bonding is always a great way to build a little buzz. Why not think about some healthy activities like:

  • Yoga in the park
  • Team sports day
  • Walking groups
  • Bike ride / scooter / zipline adventures
  • Cooking classes
  • Start a social touch football or netball team
  • Kayaking
  • Horse Riding

If a bit of indulgence is more in order, dial up the hedonism here:

  • Movie night
  • Wine tasting
  • Catch a band
  • Art gallery excursion
  • Try a new restaurant
  • Boat cruise

5. Brain Food

Don’t just stop at the fun and physical stuff, plan out activity for the year that feeds the mind and stimulates your team’s intellectual firepower. Here’s a few ideas to get the synapses singing:

  • Lunch and learn sessions
  • Share Podcast and webinar ideas and join up
  • Sign up for industry events or seminars
  • Professional Development Workshop
  • Community Volunteering

6. Reconnect With Your ‘Holiday Self’

Sarah Godfrey, personal coach and psychologist, saw a work colleague go down with a case of the holiday blues.  “They came back buzzing and on a mental high from the vacation. Two days later they were walking around the place, flat and moody. The question is why it is we leave that sunny, vibrant self, back at our holiday destination and a few days later feel grumpy, tired and wishing we were anywhere else but at work. After all aren’t holidays supposed to revive us?’ says Sarah.  

According to Sarah, there is a simple answer. ‘We fall in love with our holiday identity and miss that person and their lifestyle, as we slip back into the routine of life. Our ‘holiday self’ is often carefree, more confident, social, relaxed, adventurous and fun. ‘Holiday self’ manages problems better, is stress free and more to the point, doesn’t have to turn up for work, pay bills and be responsible for much more than waking up.’

‘Being on holiday is as much a state of mind as it is a new location. Post-holiday, all those things we managed before the break, appear dreary and boring.  We get wound up over small things again, forget how to think openly and curiously, or have a positive outlook. Often holidays draw attention to how we’ve been living and that we aren’t that happy. The low mood, post-holiday, could be a good time to take a moment to reflect on how serious you may have become, how stressed you are at work and that you may need some self-development to improve your life.  The important thing to remember is that the holiday blues will pass, as you adjust back into the responsibilities and routines of your life.’

Here are some ideas Sarah suggests, to get you through the holiday blues.

  • Wear something you got on holiday to keep the memories close.
  • Bring ‘holiday self’ to your daily life. Try to make time for holiday-like moments (go away for weekends, visit new places, be more spontaneous, be open and social).
  • Make changes to your lifestyle or working life to manage your stress.
  • Book regular holidays so ‘holiday self’ gets more opportunity to be out and about.

7. Get Busy With Career Goals

Rebecca Fraser says that after an enjoyable Christmas and down time to reflect on where people are at with their career, your team members may come back appearing somewhat disengaged.

“The hard part for an employer is that nothing has actually changed, it is simply that your team member may be reflecting on where they are at. There is a lot however you can do to help reengage them after the festive season, such as goal setting and supporting them to take stock,” says Rebecca.

“The greatest support any team member can get is to know that they are supported to reflect on their current situation. You can do this easily by asking them where they feel they are at with their career goals. Running a career development planning session with your team is another way.”

“You can also ask each of them to undertake a career driver assessment, such as Schein's career motivators, and then have a team meeting around what helps them to get out of bed in the morning. Helping your team members to take stock of their situation can greatly increase their self-awareness which will in turn help them work out how best to stay motivated in their role and work environment.”

8. Set 2019 Holiday Goals

The best antidote to holidays being over? Book another holiday. By booking your next holiday now, you can give yourself something to look forward to, and reduce that feeling of being stuck back in the routine. Somehow getting that Sales Forecast spreadsheet done seems easier when you know you’re off to check out the Cherry Blossoms in Japan or the bright lights of New York later in the year.  

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9. Hold A Staff Brainstorm Session

Getting your staff involved and asking them to help shape the year ahead is a positive way to encourage involvement and enthusiasm.

10. Be A Leader And A Role Model

As leaders we set the tone for others to follow. What we do coupled with how we do it lays the foundation for our organisational culture. David Byrum, General Manager Australia, Human Synergistics says that celebrating the achievements at the end of the year and starting the year with a plan for 2019 will enhance and sustain constructive behaviours in our organisations.

“As the new year starts share your vision for the organisation and what the year ahead means. Share your goals and plans for the year ahead and encourage others to do the same,” says David.

Beating The Blues – Make It A Habit

With this list of great ideas to implement, there’s no need for your workplace to fall into the usual new year slump. So why not tap into that latent energy of your team and set a positive  course for 2019? When you make it a business habit for the start of every year you’ll be giving yourself the best chance of success, and you just might have some fun in the process.