We all know that it’s important for people to take holidays. Breaks allow people to recharge physically and emotionally, disconnecting from day-to-day concerns and return to work rested, refreshed and enthused.

However, keeping employees focused on work before and after their holiday can be a challenge. The key is to plan ahead. These tips can help ensure your employees not only feel comfortable taking time off from work, but that they are productive right up to the date they leave and are able to hit the ground running as soon as they return.

Be prepared

Motivating employees on their return from holiday starts before they leave. Have a plan in place so that projects and day to day activities run smoothly while they are away. Make sure you are aware of the busy periods in your department to determine the best and worst times for employees to take holidays. You might be surprised how many managers approve holiday requests only to find their department seriously understaffed at peak times.

Ask your team to organise their holiday schedules well in advance to avoid workload peaks, explain that everyone’s assistance is needed during those periods to ensure business objectives are met. Failing to plan for holidays often leaves a manager resenting the time their staff take off. Unless a manager is a trained actor, that resentment will show – not a great way to motivate any individual or team!

Above all don’t ask or expect people to take work with them on holiday. Encourage a culture where staff don’t feel that they should be checking or dealing with emails and work related issues when they are on holiday.

Identify potential issues

Some people will wait until the last minute to consider the projects or tasks that must be moved forward while they are away. It can be difficult to think weeks in advance, but putting off the task can cause important activities to be forgotten. This is one area where staff might need your help.

Meet with team members who have upcoming holidays well in advance of their holiday dates. Discuss tasks that will need to be accomplished while they are away and identify colleagues who can help out. Make sure everyone involved starts communicating immediately, don’t leave things until the last moment.

Make sure you stay in the loop so that you are aware of the tasks that the person going on leave is working on and who will cover for that person. This will allow you to help address any challenges that arise while your team member is away.

Take it slow

Don’t expect someone returning from a week or two’s break to launch in at full speed on their first day or back. As much as possible, give some leeway to allow the person to settle back into work. Don’t plan an important meeting the day they return or have a large project or task waiting for them that might overwhelm them on day one. In some circumstance, it may even be wise to organise a one day buffer to continue having the person’s backup provide support until the person returning from holiday can get back up to speed.

Touch base right away

Getting back to work on day one can feel like the same old routine. After the ecstasy of an amazing holiday, the first day back can feel like a real downer when it’s straight in at the deep end.

Organise an informal meeting, maybe over a coffee, to touch base with the employee soon after their return to work. Show genuine interest in their holiday. You might be surprised to find they come back brimming with positive and useful new ideas – don’t kill their enthusiasm with a negative atmosphere. Try not to hit them with everything that might have gone wrong whilst they were away, find something positive to say before mentioning any challenges.

If appropriate, invite the people who covered for them so that they can provide updates on tasks and projects they dealt with while the person was away. Help them to refocus and prioritise their efforts so that the most important or pressing tasks are completed first.

With the proper planning, you can ensure your staff not only feel comfortable taking time off but are also able to return to work fully recharged and ready to go!

If you’d like to know more about how the team at First Base can help you with ideas about how to motivate your team, call 01453 755330 or email tricia.hay@first-base.co.uk