Holidays are essential for all employees. It’s not just because it’s something to look forward to. A holiday gives anyone an opportunity to unwind and disconnect from daily life. This is an important way of ensuring they stay physically and mentally healthy.

Employers have a duty to ensure employees take the holiday they are entitled to. But, while it can benefit long term health, it is normal for focus and motivation to slip just before the holiday and after.

As an employer, you need to be ready to keep your staff motivated at all times, but especially after the holidays. Don’t forget, motivated and happy staff are more productive, which is better for your bottom line.

Here are 4 simple ways you can drive motivation levels up, even after a holiday.

Prepare First

The first thing you need to do is consider the workload of an employee that is about to take a holiday. Ideally, you’ll have them on jobs in progress; this lowers the impact of their absence. It’s also a good idea to lighten the workload slightly before the holiday and immediately after. This will help to ease them in and out.

Although this can seem counter-productive, reducing the workload slightly will help to ensure the employee gets the work is done, which is preferable to getting nothing done.

If the project is ongoing while the employee is away then making sure that the progress is logged in detail, allowing the employee to understand the progress made and what they should be doing. You can even send a copy of this to them the evening before they are back to work. It will give them the opportunity to catch up and help them get back into work mode.

However, this is one of those times when you need to make sure you have employment law protection where you need it most, check with your consultants first to ensure this is acceptable and not counted as harassing an employee during holiday time.

You should also note when your busiest times are and suggest or implement a policy that prevents leave during these periods.

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Identify First

Before an employee goes on holiday, it’s a good idea to speak to them, at least a week before. This will give you the opportunity to talk through the projects they are currently handling and what deadlines are on each one. You’ll then be alerted to any potential issues before the employee leaves for vacation.

You’ll need to make sure your employee updates you on progress for each project they’re involved in, this will help you to stay in the loop and evaluate if there are any potential issues.

Knowing they have your support means the employee will find it easier to work right up to their vacation and restart quickly on their return.

As well as you being aware of the progress of projects, you should identify one or two colleagues that can handle the day-to-day pieces for the employee. If they are involved in the preparation process they’ll find it easier to take over and keep the project running smoothly.

Slow It Down

No matter what you do, an employee is not going to come back to work at full pace. They’ve been used to doing nothing for a week or two, imagine how you feel when you’ve come back from a holiday.

The best way you can help them is to avoid important meetings on their first day back and to ensure that anyone involved in their project reports in, making sure that they are fully up to date with the latest developments.

Talk To Them

Talking to an employee straight after a holiday can be surprisingly beneficial. You can actually use this time to update them on progress and changes while they’ve been away. Have their backups there to help and ensure they are willing to continue the roles of backups for the first day after an employee returns.

This gives the employee a chance to catch up and evaluate what is happening without the pressure of making decisions on day one.

You can even help them to create a schedule to ensure everything is on track and check in on them throughout the coming days.

It’s also very important that you provide them with an opportunity to talk. Some employees come back to work highly motivated, others are re-evaluating their life and may need a little help reminding them how important they and their job is.

Don’t forget, motivated staff, improve productivity, and your bottom line. It’s up to you to monitor your employees and speak to them regularly to ensure they are happy. If they are not you may be able to address the problem early before it becomes a major issue, that’s better for you and the employee.