5 ways to re-engage employees after the summer holidays

uploaded on 16 August 2023

Leaders that want a fast start and strong finish to Q4 need to create the right conditions to optimize employee engagement. Here’s how.   


#backtowork has gone viral on TikTok. Yet despite post-holiday blues being a common experience, surprisingly few employers have a plan in place to facilitate readjustment after the summer holidays. It’s critical they do.  After several challenging years businesses need staff primed for a fast start and strong finish to Q4.

At the same time, it’s a tough ask for employees to increase and sustain productivity levels when many have been working at capacity for some time and dealing with money worries at home. This year, rather than leave staff re-engagement to chance, HR can lead on this business-critical issue and provide leaders with the right support to build post-holiday engagement.

Start fast, finish strong

First, put a stop to performative visioning and goal setting exercises. A shared vision and goals can be a powerful motivating force, when staff feel they are co-creators. It has the opposite effect when staff feel they are being asked to deliver results without the organisation addressing any barriers to delivery. Without genuine dialogue there can be no resolution to blockages.

HR can support line managers to facilitate goal-setting sessions where managers truly listen to staff concerns and produce joint solutions to navigate these. While it might not be possible for a manager to solve all challenges raised, if the team can agree what’s possible, they will be more committed to delivery. 

Support employee wellbeing

Related to this point, managers cannot expect to see energy and enthusiasm from staff unless they model it themselves. That means, HR’s second priority should be to ensure effective support is in place to protect manager wellbeing. Much has been asked of this cohort over the past three years and many are operating with depleted energy reserves.

Support should include specialist HR input to review work structures and work design to ensure the organisation is not structurally gaslighting managers – asking them to deliver the impossible. Now is a good time for organisations with a hybrid workforce to review whether current ways of working are meeting both the needs of the business and the employee.

Be considerate of tough times

Mirror this work with staff as a third priority. Even the best designed employee wellness programme can’t negate the impact of a toxic work culture, inadequate management capability, or staff feeling overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated. Here the answer isn’t to guild the lily with empty statements about the organisation being “a great place to work”.  Employees understand times are tough. Employers that take action to show they value, and support staff create a culture that engenders loyalty and the willingness to push through in tough times.

In the current economic climate that means showing you understand and support employee’s financial circumstances. Cost pressures, apparent since mid-2021, are set to continue over 2024. This time with the additional pressure of high mortgage or rent payments, a second winter of high energy bills and depleted savings to cope with additional financial pressures.

Offer alternative financial assistance

This means the fourth priority for HR is to find ways to increase the overall financial position of employees.  First and foremost, that means paying a fair wage. Beyond that there are other low-cost ways for employers to support employee financial wellbeing.

Review your employee benefits offer. Does it still align with employee needs? Do you provide staff with access to a savings scheme that provides discounts on a wider range of items? From everyday essentials such as food and clothes to Christmas presents and holidays? Small acts of kindness, such as providing staff with vouchers to pay for lunch while they are working go a long way to help staff feel their needs are “seen.”

Build a culture of appreciation and recognition

All four priorities will enable or undermine the fifth – nurture a culture of appreciation. Unless staff feel their work is recognised and valued, they won’t give their all and will quit silently or otherwise. This might sound obvious, but research suggests that showing staff appreciation is something many employers struggle to get right. In two separate studies, a third of UK employees said they feel undervalued at work and almost half think the praise they receive is an empty gesture.  

HR can support managers by ensuring they have access to a scheme that enables them to give recognition in a personal and sincere way. And where reward is attached to the recognition, a way that enables staff to choose a reward that best fits their needs. 

This year seize the opportunity to make #backtowork a re-energising experience for staff. After you’ve set the conditions for a strong start, remember to plan end of year rewards to celebrate a strong finish.   

Finish the year strong by engaging your employees

At Edenred we provide the perfect solutions for you to create a committed and productive workforce. Find out more about how Edenred can help you re-engage your employees after the summer break.

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