Happy 2018! For many of my friends and colleagues, it’s an unusually frigid start to the year. And for most, going back to work after the holidays triggers very real malaise in the workplace. It’s difficult to get back into the rhythm of work after an extended break. The ripple effect is far more pronounced at the new year when many are returning from holidays at the same time instead of a random few coming back from a vacation.
What can we do to treat the back-to-work blues? Here are four ideas anyone can implement to help yourself and others recover more quickly from the post-vacation hangover and ramp up quickly for a successful new year.
1. Offer grace to colleagues who don’t seem quite “with it” yet.
When your project doesn’t seem to be getting the internal attention you know it needs, pause for a moment and remember nearly everyone is walking in this week, reorganizing the piles on their desks, reprioritizing their to-do lists, and possibly envisioning just how they’re going to get it all done. To help your project rise to the top of your colleague’s pile or to-do list, reach out. Have a conversation. Chat about the workload. Offer your help on a project of theirs.
2. Deliberately express your appreciation for your colleagues and their contributions.
Help colleagues get into the swing of things more quickly by taking a moment to thank them for their help. Point out to someone the impact you’ve seen them have on your team, the customer or the company. Let them know they are seen. Remind them they and their contributions are valuable. The simple act of saying “thank you” is one of the most powerful drivers of motivation – for both the giver and the receiver.
3. Find or remember the meaning in your work.
In our survey conducted with IBM Smarter Workforce Institute of 23,000 employees around the world, employees in every region and nearly every country (with Turkey as the exception) said “meaningful work” was the most influential driver of a positive employee experience. As humans, we need to know that what we do is connected to something bigger, a grander vision, an impact worth having in the world. And that applies to every type of work. Appreciation as described above helps others understand the meaning in their work. This Harvard Business Review article also offers four ways to find the meaning in your work by changing how you think about it.
4. Plan ahead for next year’s back-to-work blues.
This tip comes from a Facebook post forwarded to me by a colleague. We know back-to-work blues are a real thing, so help yourself get ready for it next year. This January, put an empty jar on your desk. Throughout the year, fill it with notes about good things accomplished – a colleague you helped, a project you finished, a casual hallway conversation that led to an interesting new idea. Today I can sit back and think about 2017, recalling many wonderful moments. But I also know I’m forgetting many such moments, too. Luckily, I can look through the many recognition moments celebrated throughout my team and organization to recall the good. Find a way to make it easy to reflect on all the good this time next year.
Did you come back to work with a holiday hangover? How do you help yourself and others get back into the give-it-your-all mood?
As Globoforce’s Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting, Derek Irvine is an internationally minded management professional with over 20 years of experience helping global companies set a higher ambition for global strategic employee recognition, leading workshops, strategy meetings and industry sessions around the world. He is a leader in the WorkHuman movement and the co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and his articles on fostering and managing a culture of appreciation through strategic recognition have been published in Businessweek, Workspan and HR Management. Derek splits his time between Dublin and Boston. Follow Derek on Twitter at @DerekIrvine.