How can you help employees deal with the back-to-work blues?

New research commissioned by MetLife Employee Benefits has found that 73% of employees will experience stress upon returning to the workplace after a break. Given that nearly 10 million working days a year are lost due to stress, this is cause for concern for employers.

“It seems a concern for many people is they worry about catching up with backlogs at work. Workplace stress is a major issue for employers and employees and it has a real impact on business performance,” said Tom Gaynor, Employee Benefits Director at MetLife UK.

Here are three simple measures you can take to combat back to work stress, and minimize disruption to your team’s productivity.

Be flexible
Nearly half of the respondents to a study conducted by NOW: Pensions cited early starts as the main reason for their back to work blues. Octavius Black, CEO of Mind Gym, suggests that employees should be encouraged to work to their natural rhythms. Those who are morning people should tackle big projects first thing; but for those who take a bit longer to get going, scheduling such work for later in the day is a more effective solution.

Be prepared
31 per cent of those polled by MetLife said that catching up with work backlogs is their main cause of back-to-work stress, so work with employees before their holiday to ensure they have appropriate cover and that deadlines upon their return are reasonable.

Daniel Callaghan of MBA & Co suggests that employees scan their emails the night before returning to work so that there are no nasty surprises awaiting them in the morning. Consider establishing the practice of a quick catch up call with a colleague the day before an employee’s return, to help them feel as though they’re hitting the ground running.

Be engaged
Of the 17% who were looking forward to going back to work, 40% said it’s because they like their job. A return from holiday could be a good opportunity to check in with an employee’s SMART goals to help renew their sense of purpose and direction. Though NOW: Pensions found that better pay would improve job satisfaction for 46% of the respondents, Pete Pedone, president and founder of home audio/video system design firm Interactive Home told Business News Daily: “Showing an employee how much the company appreciates, respects and values them on a personal level is much more gratifying.”

Further, a recent Gallup poll reported that people who smile and laugh at work are more engaged – so maintaining a positive atmosphere that encourages creativity will ensure that employees look forward to returning to work.

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