We’re getting to that point in September where the summer holidays are becoming a mere memory. That rush of optimism you had when you sat back at your desk after a week chilling in the sun reading potboilers and sipping mojitos is now waning, seemingly in direct correlation to the rain streaking down the window panes of your office. And your employees seem to have lost their mojo too.

How to motivate yourself and your employees after the summer break can be a real issue. Many people initially hit the ground running after a rest in the sunshine, but as the nights draw in and the weather deteriorates, people’s enthusiasm can flag quickly. So what can be done to tackle this?

Here are five top tips to fire up your employees and beat the post-summer holiday blues.

1.       Set manageable goals. It can be really hard to get back into the swing of things after time off. By setting important but smaller goals for yourself and your employees in the first week or two back, you can help reignite that sense of purpose and achievement you all gain from simply “getting stuff done”. Once you’re getting people to feel positive and productive again, then you can extend the scope of their objectives and increase the challenges.

2.       Practice, practice, practice. We all remember that feeling when we came back to school after the summer holidays and thought that we’d forgotten everything we knew. Just because we’re adults, that feeling doesn’t necessarily go away. People often lose their confidence when they haven’t been doing something regularly for a while. So give your employees a chance to have a few rehearsals before they get back on the phones or on the shop floor, particularly if they are in a service environment, just to make sure they aren’t out of practice and they can “get their eye back in”. It’s a huge confidence builder and can make a massive difference to their performance. And it also reduces the chances of their making mistakes after time off.

3.       Break down projects into smaller chunks. It can feel quite daunting to be faced with a huge project when you’ve been out of the game for a few weeks. So by breaking down projects into clear, smaller, bite-sized chunks, your employees (and you) don’t feel overwhelmed and have more confidence when getting back into the swing of things.

4.       Create a pleasant atmosphere. One of the reasons people enjoy their holidays so much is because they’re spending time in a nice location with people they care about. OK, admittedly you can’t make the workplace into Ibiza, nor would you want to. But you can make it reasonably comfortable, bright and welcoming so that people want to be there and enjoy the space they work in rather than dread coming into work in the morning. You can try to create a culture which respects people who are collaborative and supportive rather than building up people who undermine others and spread negativity and fear. Never underestimate the power of your surroundings and the people who surround you when looking at what makes a difference in terms of staff motivation and demotivation.

5.       Recognition and rewards. People love to be recognised and rewarded for their efforts. A pat on the back or an email to the firm acknowledging someone’s achievements can be hugely motivational and inspirational. After the break, when people may be feeling lower than normal, it’s important as an employer to focus on recognising the efforts of those who are achieving the most and to recognise their achievements publically. This can quickly bring a positive energy and sense of momentum back into the workplace and make the hardest workers and those who contribute the most to the workplace feel immediately valued.

By Deborah Done, managing director of Nab Communications www.nabcommunications.co.uk