Feeling flat now you're back at work? A post-holiday slump is normal, but these clues signal it's time for a new job


The phenomenon of feeling disheartened or despising one's job after returning from a break is a common one and is being discussed on social media platforms such as TikTok. Though this is not a new occurrence, few companies have strategies in place to help readjust to work after vacation. Studies have found that employee health and well-being increase during vacation but quickly return to baseline after the first week of work resumption. Additionally, it has been shown that short breaks may be more beneficial than longer vacations, as well as that employees tend to feel more creative two weeks after returning from vacation.

In a survey of 100 working adults on LinkedIn in December 2022, it was found that 60 percent felt they had worked too much that year. A separate study revealed that 46 percent of Australian employees felt burned out. The pandemic has caused a variety of stresses that have gone on for multiple years, raising the risk of burnout. Poor mental health is a costly issue for the Australian economy, with estimates of around $70 billion dollars annually. Employers should strive to create a psychologically safe workplace and offer access to mental health support.

 Taking regular breaks, setting boundaries between work and personal life, exercising, and having hobbies outside of work are all important for reducing stress. One study found that although health and well-being improve during vacation, these benefits are lost within the first week of returning to work. Unfortunately, a survey from October 2022 revealed that 75% of Australians were not taking their annual leave due to workload and financial pressures. This highlights the need for more than just introducing employee wellness initiatives. These fads will not work if the underlying issues such as inadequate job design, overwork, poor management, and a toxic organizational culture are not addressed. Systemic change is needed, such as redesigning jobs, revising pay, changing organizational structure, and managing workload expectations. Offering employees yoga sessions, stress reduction workshops, meal vouchers, or personal resilience sessions will not be enough. What is necessary is a plan to address the fundamental causes of burnout.

If you're feeling overwhelmed with work after a holiday, it's normal to feel a bit down for a few weeks. However, if this feeling persists for more than a month, it may be time to consider looking for a new job. It's important to first talk to your employer to see if there are any changes that can be made to help reduce your stress. This could include flexible hours or work from home. If these changes are not made and you are still feeling stressed, it may be best to start looking for a new job.

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