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Help your team avoid the back to work blues

31 Aug 2016 - Blog

Help your team avoid the back to work blues

Feeling blue

Since our school days September has signaled ‘back to work’ or the end of midday brunch and drinks by the pool in exchange for the slow march towards darker evenings and Christmas.

Are our employees returning to work for the Autumn ‘term’ refreshed, excited about the challenges ahead? Or sluggish, wishing they were back on the beach? It could be even more – in the US, statistics have shown that nearly 25 percent of people suffer from low-grade to full-blown depression after the holidays.

Here’s a few tips on how to help your teams avoid the blues and embrace September with a sense of purpose and momentum.

Work less

After a break, we have the opportunity to start some new practices, and who doesn’t want to be more efficient during the day, and leave on time?

Start thinking about how to make each hour count for more – no one makes sharp decisions when tired. It’s the constraint of time that provides the creative context for clever solutions. Set the example for your team, and help them follow.

Help your team think about sustaining their sense of wellbeing – in and out of work

Wellbeing is the backbone of productivity at work and in your home life, relating to happiness, stress levels, confidence, and sense of security.

Try this exercise with your team: draw a circle and break it into eight segments. Now imagine that everything is running smoothly in your life. Populate each segment with an element that contributes to this feeling – your children, exercise, progression at work, for example. Score each from zero to 10 on your level of fulfilment, then decide what you would like your score to be. Now think about what you need to focus on to get there.

Make individual career action plans

After a break, and a chance for some perspective or longer term thinking, it’s a good time to refresh the development plan.

Make some time with your people to review and set goals and timelines, identify resources and monitor progress. Share plans amongst the team to help individuals feel accountable.

Rethink meetings

We organise and attend too many meetings. Ensure there is a clear purpose and decision to be made. If your team prepares properly you should be able to limit them to 15 minutes. Try staying standing (to keep alert) and avoid having food or drinks, which are distracting and turn meetings into social occasions more likely to drag on.

Edit your emails

Writing shorter emails to your team members means that they are more likely to read them, make a quick decision, and write shorter replies which saves everyone time. But what you write is also important. It’s a work email, not a love letter. Stick to the facts, keep things simple and, if there’s a request, make it clear. They’ll thank you for it.

Make decisions

Whenever you can, swap “Let’s think about it” for “Let’s decide on it”. Don’t wait for the perfect solution. It’s the rarest of decisions that can’t later be improved upon, or even reversed, but lack of momentum and decisiveness are two great bugbears in responses to employee surveys.

Encourage a lunchtime break

We’re all guilty of eating a sandwich over the keyboard. Encourage your team to enjoy the last few warm sunny days of the year, with even a 10 minute walk, to give them some vitamin D, and fresh air. Eat lunch together – even for a few minutes – mingling with cheerful friends and talking over the best bits of your holidays to lift your spirits.


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