There is an epidemic in the workplace right now. It can actually happen anytime in the year, but it generally peaks in the month of August. It’s characterized by feelings of irritability, lack of motivation, difficulty concentrating, and a general feeling of emptiness.
It’s known as Post Vacation Syndrome (PVS).
For a lot of workplaces August is a productivity killer. Employees are either on vacation, or are just recovering. I stress ‘recovering’, because as we all know, those post vacation days can be some of the least productive days in the workplace.
Just like children fear the words “back to school”, employees experience a similar anxiety and dread about returning to the workplace.
Sadly, there isn’t a cure, however there are a lot of ways you can lessen the symptoms and help your employees cope.
Prepare before they go.
Discuss workload and tasks with your employees before they leave. This can help avoid any potential screw-ups but more importantly it will help your employees feel comfortable taking time off.
Don’t bother them on vacation.
Even if employees tell you that they will be checking email, resist the urge to contact them during their vacation. Otherwise it sends a message that you don’t trust them or their work.
Don’t overwhelm them.
Regardless of how much your company may have suffered at the expense of a vacationing employee, do NOT throw large amounts of work at them on their first day back. Even if an employee wants to hurry back to their work, give them a few days before launching new projects at them.
Despite the rationale behind a vacation, it’s naïve to assume all employees will return with new found creativity and be instantly productive. Be patient and understand it might take a few days before you see optimal productivity; especially if employees are returning from different time zones.
Don’t take their aloofness personally.
If an employee has just returned from a relaxing vacation, it’s natural that they will feel the effects of PVS. After all, they have just had a taste of life outside of the daily grind. They’ve also likely rediscovered what is truly important in their lives… and it probably isn’t the company they work for. If they seem detached, they likely are. But it’s most likely
temporary, and has nothing to do with you.
Use it as a learning experience.
Vacations are more than just a relaxing event. Depending on where someone traveled, they often are an opportunity for employees to bring culture of another country back into their life. Establish a process where employees gone two weeks or more share what they have learned and what their vacation taught them—even if it’s as simple as learning that their five year old gets car sick.
Let them know they were missed!
Find a balance between letting your employees know they were missed without making them feel like the company can’t survive without them. We all want to be respected and appreciated, so use this opportunity to let your employees know how much they mean to you!