Beating Post-Vacation Blues: 5 Ways Employers Can Help

If you’ve ever felt down and out after the holidays, you may be suffering from post-vacation depression. And your team’s probably feeling it too. Here’s how you can help eliminate the holiday blues. 


If you’ve ever felt down and out after the holidays, you may be suffering from post-vacation depression. And your team’s probably feeling it too. Here’s how you can help eliminate the holiday blues. 

Have you ever felt like your team comes back from the holidays seeming bummed out? If so, don’t be alarmed. It’s a common case of the post-vacation blues. In this article, you’ll learn how you can help your team overcome it using these five tips: 

  1. Create a Healthy Snack Cart 
  2. Offer Fitness Incentives to Employees 
  3. Give Your Team Something to Look Forward To 
  4. Get Your Employees Fired Back Up 
  5. Do Something Charitable  

Post-vacation blues. Post-holiday depression. Whatever you call it, odds are you’ve heard of it before. It’s the feeling of being down that people get when they head back to work after the holiday season. And if you’ve ever thought to yourself that it was just something people talk about but don’t actually feel, you might be surprised to learn the truth. It affects people worldwide.  

Here’s why: 

  • The holidays are jam-packed with socialization, but January and February are the opposite, meaning we go from (arguably) the busiest social month of the year to the least social months, and it tolls us 

  • According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of people report being affected by holiday depression, and it’s most often triggered by financial, emotional, and physical stress of the season 

  • survey by The American Psychological Association found a whopping 56% of people reported they experienced the most amount of stress at work during this time 

But here’s the good news: you don’t have to let it be all doom and gloom at your office once the holidays are over and real life gets back in swing. There are things you can do to help get everyone back to normal.  

5 Things Employers Can Do to Help Employees Beat the Post-Vacation Blues 

1. Create a Healthy Snack Cart

As Harvard Medical School puts it, your brain requires a constant supply of “fuel” to function. This fuel is gained from the foods you eat and the drinks you consume, and it has a direct effect on your mood. Like an expensive car, your brain functions best when it gets only premium fuel.  

Plot twist: according to Laura Cipullo, RD, author of The Body Clock Diet, the winter months have a big impact on what you eat. Namely, cooler temperatures, fewer daylight hours, and more time spent indoors actually trigger biological changes that make you more inclined to eat higher volumes of food – and higher-calorie foods as well. When you factor in increased alcohol consumption (nearly double for the average American, according to Beverage Daily), it’s no surprise that people come out of the holidays feeling, well, blue. 

As an employer, the last thing you want is to have people coming back to work feeling worn down and beat up. It’s a safe bet that won’t stimulate productivity and positive outcomes. So, what can you do to curb this? Create a snack cart packed with healthy food options to encourage your team to start filling their bodies and brains with premium fuel. The best bets for your snack cart include: 

  • A variety of nuts (of course, make sure there are no major allergies in your office first!) 

  • Fruits and veggies 

  • Healthy spreads, such as nut butters 

  • Rye breads 

  • Protein bars 

  • Yogurts 

  • Coconut water 

  • Seaweed snacks 

  • Trail mix

2. Offer Fitness Incentives to Employees

If you had to guess, what would you say is the number one New Year’s resolution? If your answer was “exercise more,” you’re on the money. Research from YouGov showed that a whopping 50% of people cited getting more exercise as their number one resolution.  

But the benefits of your employees’ personal health extend into their professional lives as well. Exercise releases endorphins, which make people happier, and has even been proven to improve mental capacity and offer boosts in energy.  

Research from The American Psychological Association shows that people who exercise before work are 15% more productive throughout the day and are less likely to develop job burnout and depression. Believe it or not, the benefits of physical fitness are so big that some companies even allow their staff to dedicate a chunk of work time to fitness. 

And while you don’t necessarily have to go that far, incentivizing health and wellness at work can be a great way to help your employees shake off the holiday blues and get back into the swing of things. You can consider offering things like: 

  • Corporate gym memberships  

  • Fitness trackers (which can also inspire a little friendly fitness competition among colleagues!) 

  • A dedicated stretching and yoga area in the office so that staff can take a minute to meditate, stretch, unwind, and regroup  

  • Financial contributions towards things like runs or races 

  • Bringing in a yoga instructor to lead a class with your team 

You can also consider encouraging your employees to start their own employee-led fitness groups. For instance, at Outback, a group of employees came together to start a lunchtime run club (also known as the Runch Club). Also, one of the perks we offer is that we will make an annual contribution towards a fitness endeavor of our employees’ choosing, and it has become a staff favorite 

3. Give Your Team Something to Look Forward To

Let’s just face the facts: after all the excitement of the holiday season, the first months of the year can look pretty bleak.  This can be a bit of a bummer for people.  

That’s why it’s a great time to help lift your team’s spirits by giving them something they can look forward to – like team building activities and social events! And the good news? You can make these into multipurpose activities that are both fun and beneficial from a business perspective.  

Here are a few your team might love: 

  • Team Pursuit – When your employees need re-energization, there’s no better activity than Team Pursuit. With this engaging and high-energy activity, your group will break out into teams to tackle an array of mental, physical, skill, and mystery challenges. Using creative problem solving and communication skills, teams will be awarded points for each challenge they successfully complete. Whichever group has the most points when time is up will be crowned the winners!  

  • Game Show Extravaganza – Nothing helps beat holiday blues like a bunch of fun and a ton of laughs. And that’s exactly what you’ll get with Game Show Extravaganza. In teams, your group will get to live out their very own TV game show by battling head-to-head in five rounds of brain-boggling trivia. With questions spanning from pop culture to sports, world history, politics, and more, it will take the wits of every team member to correctly answer them all. 

  • Domino Effect Challenge – With this activity, your team will experience a chain reaction as follows:  
    • Split into teams 

    • Get creative 

    • Work collaboratively 

    • Build a giant chain reaction machine 

    • Make the machine work perfectly from start to finish
    • Laugh and celebrate 

    • Overcome post-holiday depression 

    With Domino Effect Challenge, there’s no way to not have a good time. And after the holiday fun is over, it might be just the pick-me-up your group needs to snap out of their funk 

4. Get Your Employees Fired Back Up

The post-holiday blues can deal a devastating blow to an organization’s momentum coming into a new year. This can be seen in the fact that the months immediately following the holidays are decidedly uninspiring and unproductive. Don’t just take our word for it. Research from Redbooth found that January is literally the most unproductive month of the year, followed closely by February. So, what can you do to help your team get inspired and ready for a great year ahead? 

In our humble opinion, hosting a company kick-off meeting is a great bet.  

Kick-off meetings are intended to get your employees fired up – whether about a new project, a product launch, or a new year. Generally taking place over multiple days, these can be unbelievably successful in bringing out the best in your team. 

If this sounds like something your group is in need of, then check out our free resource, An Event Planner’s Guide to Epic Company Kick-Off Meetings. Here, you’ll find everything you need to know about kick-off meetings, including: 

  • How to plan them, including reasons why they fail, essential topics to cover in your agenda, and big mistakes to avoid during the process

  • What to do after your kick-off meeting to ensure it’s successful 

5. Do Something Charitable

Believe it or not, the survey we mentioned at the beginning of this article from The American Psychological Association found some other interesting information. It showed that people find commercialism and the pressures of gift-giving among the top stressors of the holiday season.  

That means it’s actually not uncommon for people to come back to work feeling inundated and overwhelmed by buying and receiving gifts.  

One way to shake this is to get out and do something good for somebody else – with no strings attached. Charitable initiatives have been proven to make people happier, making it the perfect remedy for those post-holiday blues. 

At Outback, we offer a number of charitable team building activities that you might love, including: 

  • Random Acts Of Kindness – What’s more uplifting than a scavenger hunt based entirely on doing good deeds for others? Shake off the post-holiday blues by heading out into your city with your team to complete fun challenges and make other people’s days a little bit brighter. You can kick off the new year and eliminate that glum mood by spreading smiles and cheer in your community.  

  • Charity Bike Buildathon – There aren’t many things more fulfilling than helping a child get their first bike, especially when you’ve assembled and decorated it by hand! That’s exactly what your team will do in this activity where they work collaboratively to build bikes for a children’s charity. And along the way, they’ll develop an ad campaign to showcase their creations to the entire group.  

  • School Supply Scramble – Every kid deserves a good education, and with this activity, your team can help make sure they get it. With School Supply Scramble, teams compete in education-themed challenges. For each challenge they complete, they’ll receive backpacks and school supplies. Together, they’ll create educational care packages, which will be donated to a children’s charity of your choice.  

For even more feel-good CSR ideas, check out our blog post: 15 Creative Volunteer Ideas to Help Your Team Make a Difference. Here, you’ll find a wide array of ways you can get out and give back. 

Are the post-holiday blues a big problem within your organization? If so, how do you help your team overcome them? We’d love to hear your approach in the comments section below.  

Learn More About Team Building Activities to Help Cure the Post-Vacation Blues 

For more information about team building activities that can help your team overcome their post-holiday depression, just reach out to our Employee Engagement Consultants. 

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