Tips to Motivate Employees When They Return From Vacation

employés souriants
Morgane Lança
September 5 2022

Summer is almost over, and your employees are slowly returning from their well-deserved vacation. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get back into the swing of things when you return to work!

Here is how to prevent loss of motivation and productivity when your employees return from vacation.

Return from Vacation and Loss of Motivation

As we all know, employee vacation planning requires excellent organization. However, the transition back from vacation is equally crucial and needs to be anticipated accordingly.

Raise your hand if you have ever felt a bit discouraged to see your vacation come to an end! Chances are you have experienced a disconnect from work after a long period of rest.

Some even go through post-vacation depression, which causes loss of motivation, fatigue and struggles with daily tasks.

How can we prevent these drops in employee morale when they return from vacation? Here are our simple and effective tips.

1) Start Slow and Encourage Dialogue

The idea may seem basic, but imagine the following situation: you’ve just returned from vacation, discovered beautiful landscapes and good restaurants, a colleague enters your office and… talks about the file that needs to be completed before the end of the week. The contrast between your vacations and your professional obligations hits you in the face. As a result, you are no longer stimulated by the idea of returning to work, and you are already dreaming of your next vacation…

To avoid this unpleasant scenario, encourage your teams to discuss their vacation experiences. Sharing is both a motivator and a team-builder. The return from vacation is the perfect time to promote team spirit and get back on track! 

I understand people returning from vacation have a need to share their travel experiences and get back on track at their own pace. Therefore, we always have 5-10 minute small talk sessions focusing on issues outside of work. It’s time to share our personal stories, especially those from vacation time. We show each other pictures, describe our experiences, and inspire each other (all in all, we’re more than just workmates). I observed that doing it this way makes people happier and more motivated.

Leszek Dudkiewicz, Head of Marketing at Passport Photo Online

2) Promote Team Spirit

It’s always more enjoyable to return to work when you’re welcomed by friendly faces. In addition, a good team spirit could quickly become your employees’ daily fuel.

Conversely, you can imagine that it’s even harder to get your feet out of the hot sand when you know that a lousy atmosphere awaits you at the office…

To encourage team spirit and teamwork as soon as they return to work, think about team-building activities (they are even easier to organize in summer!), as well as group meetings. The latter will allow you to discuss everyone’s vacation, see familiar faces, and get back into daily tasks.

3) Organize the Last Summer Barbecue

Barbecues are the classic of summer team-building activities. They can become a moment to share vacation experiences with your colleagues. The message is as follows: returning to work doesn’t mean the end of fun times spent in good company.

This activity is easy to organize and will appeal to many people. We can guarantee that it will increase the motivation of all participants.

We know that the return from holidays can be difficult for your employees: here are some ideas to organize the best Christmas party


4) Give Meaning to Daily Work

In addition to setting up a good atmosphere and engagement activities, you need to ask yourself: what meaning do your teams find in starting work each day? Beyond financial motivations, do they feel useful and appreciated?

These questions are also prevalent on your employees’ minds, especially when they return from vacation. Indeed, returning to your routine often leads to questions that impact workers’ productivity and well-being.


The three crucial steps to creating sense and lasting engagement at work are as follows:

  1. Dialogue: Ask your employees what motivates them most to go to work. Are they happy to be back with their teams, do they enjoy their daily tasks, and do they feel recognized and valuable? What changes could improve their professional lives? These questions must be asked regularly to ensure productivity, but also employee well-being. If you feel that the dialogue is difficult to initiate, engagement surveys will help you obtain reliable and confidential answers.
  2. Goals: No ambition = no motivation! Having achievable goals over a period of time encourages productivity and allows employees to visualize their work and its impact. With a clear list of monthly or quarterly targets, you can also objectively measure workers’ performance and engagement.
  3. Recognition: Do you know what is worse than receiving criticism for your performance drops? Not receiving encouragement for a job well done. An employee recognition program motivates employees to give their best and creates meaning in their professional lives. Here are examples of recognition phrases you should use in your company!

We’ll tell you more about these three essential aspects of employee engagement later on.

5) Focus on Performance Management

Setting objectives is essential to motivate your troops. Here are tips for effective performance management in your company:

6) Plan an Event to Celebrate Employees’ Accomplishments

What better way to motivate your staff than by celebrating their accomplishments during the year? You can organize a recognition gala highlighting each department’s achievements, individual successes and best performances. The event can be held via video conference or in person, and you can even organize a real party out of it.

This idea helps the whole company learn what projects the other teams are working on and bring a better synergy and involvement in organizational success.  All in all, a great way to get back into the swing of things.

7) Listen to Your Employees

We all appreciate feeling heard and having our voices valued, especially in a professional setting.

By having regular conversations with your employees and using these moments to ask them how they feel at work, you will show them that you care about their well-being.

Taking this a step further, engagement surveys are effective tools for obtaining confidential and detailed responses across the organization and building a culture of ongoing employee feedback.

Regardless of the engagement strategy you choose, surveying your teams upfront several times a year is the best way to identify declines in motivation and involve your employees in the smooth running of your business.

8) Simplify Your Processes

Did you know that simplified daily processes also improve employee motivation? HR dematerialization is shaping up to be a key engagement driver for the next few years. Why not take advantage of the return from vacation to start your digital transformation and facilitate your employees’ daily tasks?

Digitizing the entire employee experience brings many benefits for your company:

  • Daily time-savings;
  • Centralization of HR information;
  • Better management throughout the entire lifecycle;
  • Increased flexibility for employees;
  • Modernization of processes and greater attractiveness…
  • And much more.

As you can see, modernizing your processes is a must to ensure your productivity and motivate your teams.

Bonus Activities Ideas to Boost Employee Engagement After the Return From Vacation

  • Lunch & Learn: These activities get everyone back in the mindset of learning and improving. The best part? They fit easily into a work day and are easy to organize. There is simply no good excuse not to schedule regular Lunch & Learns when you return from vacation.
  • Team activities: From a simple dinner at a restaurant to the organization of sports or cultural events, the return from vacation period is the ideal time to organize team-building activities.
  • Recognition Gala: As mentioned above, the recognition gala is a must for your return from vacation strategy. Make sure to dedicate it to employee efforts and company colors.
  • Sports event between colleagues: Complete your summer program by organizing a sports event between colleagues. Outdoor team activities and friendly competition are always a big hit in the summer.

The return from vacation is an excellent time to implement efficient human resources management practices. A gentle but strategic reboot will promote employee motivation and well-being in the workplace.

Whatever your engagement strategy is, don’t forget to survey your teams! Engagement surveys will be your best allies in building appropriate action plans and ensuring good employee motivation levels.

Want to learn more about engagement surveys and their benefits?

Discover Folks Surveys, the best engagement solution for SMBs!


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