Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Beating the back-to-work blues

It’s the official end of the summer, kids are going back to school, summer vacations are over, and it’s time to get back to the daily grind. As employees drag their feet through the office halls, tired after a long weekend, take a minute to think of how you can harness the same back-to-school excitement in your employees.

While going back to work after a 3-day weekend isn’t quite like the first day of school, “wouldn’t it be great if your place had the energy of the first day of high school? You could bottle that stuff and sell it,” says Frank Roche at Know HR Blog.

The first two ideas are Frank’s, but his post got me thinking of more ways we can re-energize the workplace and show some employee appreciation.

  • Send a “welcome back” letter. Remember that letter the principal used to send out welcoming everyone back to school after the break? Use that same idea on any given Monday to welcome employees back after the weekend and thank them.

  • Give them new supplies. Channel the joy felt when a child gets a new backpack filled with brand new school supplies and reward your employees. Place small gift bags full of new office supplies on employees’ desks for a job well done.

  • Refresh the break room. Other than at their desks, the break room is the next place employees spend most of their time at work eating lunch or grabbing a cup of coffee. Why not freshen it up with a new coat of paint? Or, fill the counters with healthy snacks, specialty teas and coffee.

  • Hold an event. Something small that says “don’t be sad about the end of the summer.” Make it something easy, something they don’t have to leave the office for like a company bake sale or white elephant auction. Something that takes them away from their desks for a minute to recharge will help them to be more productive when they return.

  • Offer company-sponsored training. Employees still have the desire to develop their skills even if they have no plans to leave their current employer. Sponsor in-house training or check out local community colleges for affordable courses and cover the fees or the entire cost of the class.

However small it may be, recognizing your employees’ hard work will pay off in the end. Find simple ways to beat the back to work blues after long weekends and you’ll have more energized employees invested in the success of your business.

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