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January is traditionally one of the toughest months for business owners.

The combination of tight purse strings after the expense of Christmas and New Year festivities, and employees with post-holiday blues, can mean an all-round slump for business.

According to psychologist Fred Cicchini from corporate health management organisation, Injury Treatment, as many as two-thirds of workers experience low-morale after their holiday.

“The end of the holiday season, when workers return to the office, can be the toughest time of the year for employees and this is often evidenced in a significant drop in productivity levels – something that can have a lasting impact on a business,” Cicchini said.

But the war is not lost.

Offices that give employees flexibility to work in a number of environments, such as an open plan space, which includes traditional desks, ‘café’ settings and sofas, can help ease the transition back to work.

FDC Construction & Fitouts Managing Director, Ben Cottle said they have noticed a significant rise in company’s looking to update their office to a more open format.

“Businesses are seeing the value that comes from providing employees with multiple connectivity points and allowing them to have the ability to work from anywhere at any time in an environment that appeals to them,” Cottle said.

There are also very simple and low-cost ways to boost motivation and ensure positivity around the return to work.

Konekt psychologist Amanda Johnston said there are tried and true ways to get reacquainted with the day-to-day routine, and offered the following key tips:

Look after yourself

  • Get a good night’s sleep – and reset your body clock, as you’ll no doubt be getting out of bed earlier to get to work.
  • Plan some relaxation time – This helps to keep your mind and body ‘sane’. It also gives you something to look forward to each day, and this can assist you to get through some of the less pleasant aspects of life.
  • Exercise – People are able to better cope with stress when their bodies are healthy. Incorporating periods of physical exercise into your routine will help to improve muscle control, make you feel happier, healthier and increase self-esteem.
  • Eat well – Try to improve your diet and avoid stimulants where possible. Excess caffeine or nicotine can make you feel anxious or on edge.
  • Drink plenty of water – Discs and joint capsules deflate when we are dehydrated.
  • Take breaks – Ensure you move your body and take regular breaks during the day; get up out of your chair to have a stretch or walk around to keep the blood circulating and mind alert, and get outdoors when possible.

Look after your staff

  • Work with your employees to review their workload upon returning from Christmas and assist them to prioritise what needs to be done most urgently.
  • Have regular catch ups: Managers should regularly meet with staff, even if it’s only a short catch up, to discuss activities and any issues.
  • Ask and listen: Ask your employees how they’re feeling and what’s been happening, and really listen to their answer.
  • Act: If you say you’re going to do something to assist a staff member, do it.
  • Improve communication in the workplace: Share information with employees to reduce uncertainty about their jobs and futures; clearly define employees’ roles and responsibilities.
  • Show employees they are valued: Look at schemes to recognise good work, such as employee of the month.
  • Provide responsibility and accountability: Ownership and incentives assist in creating an entrepreneurial work environment and place an element of control back into the worker’s hands.
  • Cultivate a friendly social environment.
  • Be ergonomic: Ensure workstations are appropriately set up to avoid back and neck strains/pains or RSI and thus minimise risk of injury.

Be organised

  • Make an effort to have your first weeks back as organised as possible. Place reminders / appointment details in your calendar or diary for the first two to three weeks. Whether it be lunches, travel to and from work, or even what you’re wearing for the day, effective time management regulates your tasks and reduces the uncertainty of not having enough time to complete the task required.
  • Plan something enjoyable: This could be a get-together with friends, a weekend away or even your next holiday. It’s important to have pleasurable activities to look forward to.

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Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie is the editor-at-large of Dynamic Business. Stephanie brings with her a passion for journalism, business, and new ideas. On her days off, you might find her reading a book on the beach.

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