4 fun ways to beat the back to work blues

08 January 2016 -


From office games to fruity snacks, Insights has your return to work after the festive period covered…

Jermaine Haughton

Had your first week back at work? Feeling down? Considered quitting (at least twice) to go hitchhiking in South America? You are not alone. Nearly half of workers admit they are suffering 'back to work blues', with 13% confessing their dread for the return to the daily grind according to a poll from NOW: Pensions.

But do not fear. Insights has just the remedy for managers looking to lift themselves and their teams to tackle 2016 with a clear head.

For those who were fortunate enough to have a break between Christmas and New Year, the early morning alarm, the drudge of the commute and the anticipation of hundreds of unanswered emails cluttering the inbox can understandably feel overwhelming.

Therefore, the first Monday back at work after the festive season is ranked as the most miserable of the entire year, a British social media study found in 2014. The Upbeat Barometer analysed more than 2.2 million January tweets posted on Twitter over three years, finding significant negative language and phrases that indicated mood plummeted in the month.

According to Dr. Angelos Halaris, professor of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences at Loyola University in Illinois, the pessimism employees experience in their first week back at work after a prolonged break is perfectly normal and has a scientific explanation.

“It’s more than likely during the 10 to 14 days of the holiday season with Christmas and New Year’s we tend to go overboard even in the best sense,” he said. “Overeating, overdrinking and not sleeping enough — that all sets the stage for the post-holiday crash.”

“For many, the holiday season is like a dream world and hopefully people have had a good dream, but it is like a dream that ceases literally overnight,” Halaris added, highlighting the extra stress the body endures moving from a state of enjoyment and freedom at home to one of restriction and routine at work. “There is a real sense of loss that comes with this transition period that makes us all a little sad.”

However, there are reasons for British workers to be positive about the New Year. Many of the lowest paid workers will continue to benefit from the National Living Wage introduced in April, anxiety among British households about the state of their finances fell last month to its lowest level since July and small-and medium-sized business chiefs are reportedly “cautiously optimistic” regarding the prospect of 2.5% GDP growth over the next couple of years.

Here are four ideas to help your team (and yourself) bounce back strongly in the New Year

1. Socialise

Rather than stepping straight back into a minefield of deadlines and paperwork, allowing workers to freely discuss what they’ve been up to over Christmas can help maintain excitement and create a happy atmosphere throughout the office, which can only be good for boosting staff morale and confidence.

Managers can encourage colleagues to catch up with each other through the reorganisation of work spaces, relaxing work demands on the first few days or through organised work activities.

2. Start the working day with games

Remember how excited you were to go to school at the end of term, when the teachers would let you play board games and cards during classes? Well, a similar tactic can be used by managers to ease workers back into the office. Spending the first 30 minutes of a working day playing a game which allows the whole team to get involved, such as word association, can refresh relationships, boost motivation and stimulate greater productivity.

3. Offer free healthy snacks

It’s highly probable that some of your staff will have set themselves a fitness or health-related resolution for 2016. Why not support that goal by providing bowls of fresh fruit, nuts and snacks that will help workers feel energised and give them something they will enjoy?

Health-conscious staff will appreciate the manager’s support and it can increase both motivation and loyalty.

4. Set 2016 goals for staff

The New Year tends to mark a fresh start, personally and professionally. Some individuals will be questioning whether they should change employer, while others will be looking for a promotion or salary raise in their current role. Therefore, managers should find time early in the New Year to meet one-to-one with each staff member and discuss their personal goals for the year.

By doing so, managers can assess the mindset of his/her workforce and spot concerns, as well as identify any skills workers are eager to learn or projects they are keen to work on.