Waking up on the first morning post-vacation can feel like a cold splash of reality. Your mind is still filled with memories of relaxation and adventure from your recent trip, but as you sit back at your desk, the business world comes rushing back in. The memories are vivid, but the reality…Your mind is in turmoil. It’s no surprise that more than half of employees (57%) have contemplated quitting after a break. This finding comes from a study conducted by Passport-Photo.Online, which delved into this issue, explored common challenges, and identified the best strategies for retaining employees after their vacations.
Curious about this phenomenon and how to address it effectively? Read on.
What Is the Post-Vacation Retention?
As Albert Einstein once said, “Open the fridge, and you’ll find employee retention”.
Retention strategies are now a fundamental component of the HR toolkit. Companies aim to retain their employees to prevent the following five detrimental factors:
- High employee turnover costs
- Low engagement
- Poor customer service
- Low efficiency
- Negative cultural changes
These strategies encompass all the actions HR teams take to keep employees satisfied with their jobs, ultimately extending their tenure within the organization. Now, let’s shift our focus to post-vacation retention. These are strategies designed to address the specific concerns and challenges that workers face when they return to work after a break.
Why is this time after the post-vacation so important?
The mentioned study revealed that it typically takes up to one week for employees to acclimate after an extended trip. This entire week is often filled with doubts and considerations about whether to continue in their current job, and this uncertainty can have a devastating effect on their work satisfaction and engagement. The impact of this “vacation hangover” may even persist beyond this initial period. Furthermore, the post-vacation period is a regular and common occurrence experienced by all employees every year.
Given these factors, it’s prudent for HR departments to develop specific retention strategies that directly address employees’ post-holiday challenges.
Understanding Employees’ Post-Holiday Challenges
Why do people experience post-vacation blues, even when they enjoy their jobs?
The primary factors contributing to post-travel depression include financial concerns (40%) – often stemming from overspending on food, attractions, and indulgences during vacations. In fact, 23% of travelers admit to indulging in guilty pleasures during every trip. Another challenge is the difficulty of readjusting to work schedules (39%). Compared to the freedom of vacation time, waking up without an alarm clock and adhering to a strict work schedule can be challenging. The third most common factor is long travel times or experiencing jet lag (38%). It’s not easy to return to the daily grind when you’re feeling a bit groggy and completely exhausted.
As a result of these factors, people often experience a kind of post-vacation depression. The most common symptoms are a lack of motivation (27%), feelings of sadness (21%), and a longing for more travel (21%). However, when it comes to work, these symptoms manifest in more specific ways.
What are work-related challenges?
After an extended break, US workers struggle with:
- concentration (40%)
- increased tardiness/absences (30%)
- lower job satisfaction (29%).
These three challenges should be the primary focus of HR departments when creating their post-vacation retention strategies.
Five Study-Based HR Strategies For Smoother Post-Vacation Returns
Now that we understand the origins of post-vacation blues and how people feel during this period, let’s explore strategies that effectively address these challenges and work towards preventing a toxic work environment.
3.1. Adopting Flexible Working Hours
Flexible working hours seem to be a perfect employee satisfaction booster. Actually, according to an Airtasker survey, flexible workers put in 1.4 extra days of work per month on average compared to those in traditional offices. As discussed earlier, 39% of employees struggle with readjusting to their work schedules. Additionally, 48% of respondents rated flexible work hours during the first few days after vacation as the most desired strategy in their organization. These results highlight the significant role of work schedules in employees’ daily lives.
The transition from complete freedom to a strict schedule can be jarring. Here’s how to implement this strategy effectively: Allow employees to start later or leave early during the first few days after their vacations. This approach provides employees with the necessary time to adapt as needed.
3.2. Implementing A Post-Vacation “Grace Period”
The worst workplace nightmare? A missed deadline. The debate continues on whether deadlines are more motivating or stressful. Studies have consistently shown that deadlines are the most frequent cause of workplace stress. On the other hand, psychologists argue that distant deadlines can lead to procrastination and poor planning, while proximal deadlines tend to inspire action.
However, the truth remains that 40% of employees consider deadline leniency as a much-desired benefit they’d like their organization to introduce for their post-vacation period.
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The concept of a post-vacation “grace period” for project deadlines is an excellent way to alleviate the immediate pressure upon returning to work. Allowing employees to work at their own pace for a week can transform the challenging post-vacation transition into a more pleasant experience.
3.3. Offering the Remote Work Option
Remote work continues to be a hot topic in the world of HR. In 2022, 40% of job seekers would accept a lower salary to be able to work remotely. The benefits are evident: no commute, no strict dress code, and better focus when working alone are just a few of the advantages frequently cited by employees. When Owllabs asked remote workers about their reasons for choosing to work remotely, they emphasized better work-life balance (91%), increased productivity and improved focus (79%), reduced stress (78%), and the convenience of avoiding a daily commute (78%).
A recent study further confirms the appeal of remote work. In Passport-Photo.Online’s research, 34% of respondents indicated that working from home was at the top of their wish list for benefits offered by organizations during their first post-vacation days.
In fact, a home office can provide employees with a more convenient and productive work environment during those initial post-travel days. Returning to the office often means a deluge of messages and a mountain of tasks to manage. It can be challenging to focus in a busy office with colleagues ready to chat at any moment, causing frequent interruptions. In contrast, when working from home, employees can focus on their work more peacefully, enabling them to effectively manage the additional workload.
3.4. Mindfulness Practices
At first glance, recommending mindfulness practices may seem like the polar opposite of a vivid vacation experience. But there’s a good reason to suggest them to employees. In fact, 34% of survey respondents chose mindfulness as their preferred strategy to cope with post-vacation blues, making it the most popular option.
Mindfulness practices encourage individuals to immerse themselves in the present moment and appreciate it fully. Techniques like gratitude notes and mindful meditations are perfect ways to rekindle an appreciation for everyday life and return to it with a sense of gratitude.
HR professionals can assist employees in embracing mindfulness. Here’s what they can offer:
- Online mindfulness meetings
- Mindfulness apps, some of which are specifically designed for employers
- Sharing free gratitude meditations in welcoming messages when employees return
3.5. Carrying the Vacation Vibe
Another strategy that employees (27%) often employ to combat post-vacation blues is continuing their vacation habits. This practice helps keep the memories vivid and gives them a sense of prolonging the vacation experience. So, what can HR do to support this approach?
- Encourage employees to share their travel memories in group discussions. Managers can allocate time during meetings for employees to talk about their recent travels.
- Inspire and motivate returning employees by scheduling a welcome message on their first day back. Encourage them to continue their vacation habits as a way to extend the vacation spirit.
- Create a dedicated communication channel, such as a Slack channel or another preferred platform, where employees can share pictures from their vacations with their colleagues. This fosters a sense of camaraderie and connection within the team.
Post-vacation retention goes beyond preventing employees from quitting. When done correctly, it helps employees smoothly transition back to work, making it a pleasant experience. And pleasant experiences are ones we want to repeat. In this way, above retention strategies can assist employees in returning to work with ease and a positive attitude, rather than with sadness or reluctance.
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Author’s bio: Karolina Turowska, a writer and travel enthusiast at PhotoAiD. When it comes to writing, she loves bringing dry facts to life. When it comes to traveling, she just loves bikes.