Summer vacations and long weekends are a good thing. They offer important downtime for staff to recharge and refocus. But the shift from beach cabana to office cubicle is often a struggle.

Here are 5 ways to help team members quickly shed post-vacation blues and get back in the groove of work:

Spark a story. Break the ice and inquire about team members’ time away. To avoid a day-by-day recount—worthy of a National Geographic documentary—ask specific questions, like “Where did you have your best meal?” or “What was your favorite place to visit?”   By including “why” with those questions you’ll likely hear a few stories, which nearly every vacation-goer is eager to tell.

Catch up in person.  Don’t email a hefty, to-do list to an employee the night before his return to the office. That’s an instant turn-off. Meet one-on-one and in person during the morning of his return to review what’s been happening and pending priorities. For employees in remote locations, make a phone call to discuss work requirements.  

Seek feedback.  After a few days, regroup with your team member and ask “How are things going?” Seek feedback and make changes accordingly. My firm’s research shows that employees are more likely to work harder for a boss who not only listens, but also takes action on their suggestions.

Get organized. Hold a team meeting to recalibrate the entire group. Ask team members to prepare in advance with information about projects they are working on by answering these four questions: What’s going well? What’s not? What help do you need? What ideas/suggestions do you have? Take notes on action items and quickly distribute them after the meeting.  

Show appreciation. Don’t forget to say thanks to those giving extra effort! If an employee went above and beyond subbing for a vacationing co-worker, write a personal thank you note and praise her publicly. Genuine appreciation is a big on-the-job motivator.

Linda Dulye is internationally recognized for helping many companies go spectator free. A former communications leader for GE and Allied Signal, Linda established Dulye & Co.  in 1998 with a practical, process-driven approach for improving communications and collaboration through an engaged workforce—a formidable competitive advantage, that she calls a Spectator-Free Workplace™.