Employees and pensions

Post Vacation Syndrome: 6 tips for companies

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Many employees suffer from Post Vacation Syndrome (PVS) when they return to work after vacation. So why do employees get the blues once the sun, beach and delicious food are just a memory? And what can you do to recreate some of that vacation vibe and boost happiness at your workplace?

What is Post Vacation Syndrome?

PVS is defined by occupational psychologists as a drop in mood and performance in the first few days after returning from vacation. This phenomenon has been scientifically proven. PVS primarily affects employees who have a high-stress job. It can cause both physical as well as emotional symptoms, ranging from waning motivation at work to general malaise, to feelings of helplessness and frustration. It can also give rise to symptoms such as tiredness, loss of appetite and sleep disturbances. 

Post Vacation Syndrome: 6 tips to beat the back-to-work blues

It's the first day back at work and already motivation is in the doldrums. Two out of every three employees are affected. The sense of rejuvenation created by the vacation rapidly disappears, which can lead to feelings of frustration. Use these 6 tips to boost your employees' motivation and help them feel good again.

Tip 1: Too much work cancels out motivation

Staff who are greeted by a mountain of work on their first day back will have a hard time getting motivated. All feelings of relaxation will be replaced by stress. Let your employees ease back into work and don't plan calls, workshops or new projects for the first few days. After a two-week vacation, employees generally have hundreds of emails to read and attend to. 

Another way to make the return to work less difficult is to let staff work from home for the first few days. So their first day back in the office after summer vacation could be on a Wednesday, for instance. This way the first work week seems shorter and the weekend isn't too far away.  

Tip 2: Hold off on key projects, decisions and meetings

If possible, do not present your employees with a series of faits accomplis right after vacation. Particularly for projects in which they played a leading role before they went away. Wait to make key decisions and start new projects until the employees involved have returned.

Tip 3: Set goals and praise accomplishments

Encourage achievable goals. This is even more effective if the goals are tied to rewards. But remember that while purely monetary incentives such as bonuses work in the short term, they do not provide motivation in the longer term. A more effective incentive could be additional vacation days, for instance. Or reward programs such as Swibeco, which offer discounts on travel, apparel and electronics. A team working together toward a shared goal strengthens the cohesiveness of the company.

Appreciation may be overlooked or not given the attention it deserves during a hectic day. And often it doesn't take much: Ice cream for everyone on a hot summer day or a few words of praise can work wonders. Employees are always pleased to received positive feedback about their work – not just once a year during annual reviews.

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Tip 4: Breaks work wonders

Make sure that your team takes enough breaks – especially when things get hectic. It has been proven that working too long and too hard reduces productivity. Letting employees eat in the office or at their desk is not a good idea either. Encourage them to have lunch in the break room. Or even better, have them go outside because fresh air and sunshine nourish the body, soul and mind. Once they’ve recharged their batteries they'll be ready to tackle their afternoon work.

Incidentally, eating together on a regular basis is a great team builder. If you want to do more, start up a monthly company grill party during the summer months. These events should not really be all about the job or the company.

The best thing about vacation is getting away from it all. Strive to create small moments of vacation at work. And make sure that your employees really take their breaks and go home on time so they can hold on to that vacation feeling a little longer.

Tip 5: Spruce up the workplace

Employees that feel comfortable where they work find work more enjoyable and are also more productive. This has been proven by numerous studies. And you don’t need to do all that much. Just adding some greenery to an office increases productivity by up to 15 percent. Plants have a calming effect and improve concentration. Best of all, plants are affordable and they come in all shapes and sizes.

Let your team help spruce up the office by having them make suggestions. An effective way to combat Post Vacation Syndrome: Employees who look forward to coming into work start off with a good attitude when they come back from vacation.

Tip 6: Support a good cause

Meaningful activities are good sources of motivation. Go out and do some good together with your team. Taking part in a charity run or park clean-up are some activities that can build lasting team spirit. Activities like these also have a positive impact on the company's image – the marketing department will thank you for it.

Last but not least, they promote the health and well-being of your employees, because people who train together for a sports challenge or who go out in the fresh air to get some exercise are improving their fitness and thus overall employee health at the company – an additional benefit.

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Motivated employees are worth it

Studies show that companies with satisfied and motivated employees are not only more productive, but also their employees miss less work, identify more strongly with the company and are more innovative. In short, they add value.

Regardless of whether you are seeing brief dips in motivation after vacation or whether it is a more permanent issue, you can help to create a positive, inspiring and motivating work atmosphere for your employees. It will pay off for you, your employees and for the company.

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