Trying to keep morale high when we return from the holidays is much tougher than any other time of year. Of course, this can be more difficult for some as we realise that the festivities are over for another year, we’re at risk of running a little bit low on cash and carrying an extra few pounds from indulging maybe just a little bit too much.

It takes us an average of 4 working days to fully recover after the holiday period – that’s almost a full working week of being less productive than we normally are as we re-adjust to our early mornings and get back into our daily routines. Even when we love our jobs, the back to work blues are still a thing as we realise that we can’t sleep till noon and get away with eating as much as we want.

Treating ourselves to lie-ins and going to bed later than normal is great over Christmas, but when we return to work this can lead to what many call ‘social jet lag’. Most of us will have thrown our body-clock and will feel the physical effects of it over the first week back. We end up feeling similar effects to actual jet lag, where we feel sluggish, struggle to get up in the morning, and probably just want to have a nap at our desk.

So, whether you’re the employer wondering how to motivate your staff, or the employee wondering how to get back into the swing of things, here are a few sure-fire ideas to try and keep spirits high:

Don’t try and rush it

It’s likely that most of us have had a glance at our work emails over Christmas so we know what to expect when we return. If you didn’t, don’t try and push yourself to get through everything you missed in an hour. It’s probably no use to anyone to not put plenty of care into your emails and whatever work you begin catching up on – so take your time.

As an employer, let people get back into their routine. If they want to spend a little time in the morning catching up and sharing stories – let them do it. A casual chat and less pressure can go a long way in keeping up morale.

Set new, exciting goals

Try and boost enthusiasm by giving your employees something exciting to work towards – something they can look forward to. It’s likely that employees won’t worry about returning to work if they exciting by the thought of something new.

These can come in many forms, both directly work related or something just related to well-being. It’s a great opportunity to kick-start some new year resolutions for the whole team, tasks such as challenging your staff to learn at least one new thing every day, so they can share it with their colleagues (such as writing it on a dedicated wall space). Tasks like these will get your employee’s engaging with one another and might even bring a few smiles and laughs to the office.

The new year can act as a great motivator if you do it right!

Have a team meeting

Although it’s likely that people will be returning to work at different times (if they’ve taken extra holidays, for example), but it could be sensible to set up a team meeting with everyone in your team or department.

January is generally the time for new goals, so use this time to communicate as a team, throw new ideas around and just overall discuss the potential for the year ahead. It could also be used as a refresher for anything of importance that was happening before the Christmas break – it all just depends on your organisation and your employees.

Know what your employees want

It’s normal for people to go into the new year with a fresh pair of eyes, and dreams of achieving their newly set goals. As an employer, you should take time to understand if there is anything you can do to support the growth of your employees. Taking time to understand their goals is a great starting point for improving morale, as they’ll feel appreciated and valued for their work. Knowing that you’re taking interest and action in supporting their goals will go a very long way, so why not use this as a January motivator?

Out-of-office events

Anything from a fun social event outside of the office to team building activities can help to improve morale. Almost 90% of employees feel that the office holiday parties are key to team dynamic as it offers relationship building time outside of the office, as well as some well-earned fun. So why shouldn’t things like this work all year round? Planning something for the end of January would give your employees something to look forward to.

 

Of course, there are things we can do directly for ourselves, such as eating healthily (we have to combat the Christmas binge guilt somehow!) and exercising to help us feel refreshed. But when it comes to work, it doesn’t have to be such a negative thing to return, and once we’re back in a routine we’ll forget we were even dreading it in the first place!