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With many companies in Hong Kong taking an extended Christmas break, returning to work this week can be a challenge for workers, especially with the weather turning cold and the sun rising after 7am – making getting out of bed all the more difficult.

Getting back into the swing of early mornings, dealing with colleagues and clients and getting stuck into a backlog of big post-Christmas tasks are all factors that can take a toll.

Here are three tips for HR to help employees transition into 2021. And take on the new year with gusto.

#1 Encourage staff to pace themselves

When easing back into work, it's possible that inboxes will be inundated with emails from colleagues and customers from over the Christmas break.

Sorting through this flood of messages is likely take a large segment of time and some employees may feel unable to resist the urge to stay at their desks until each email has been answered.

But it's essential that staff take regular breaks throughout the working day for both mental and physical wellbeing wellbeing.

“To avoid any negative effects on our health, we encourage individuals to schedule a workout diary for the week, do regular desk stretches, walk during lunchtime and take regular breaks from your chair throughout the day,” John Paul Hughes, nutrition and exercise specialist at Zevo Health told HR Grapevine.

#2 Keep up morale

With many employers hosting fun events (most likely virtual) and activities in December, some employees might feel that they have little to look forward to when returning to work in the new year.

HR could keep some of the good vibe of the festive spirit going by engaging with employees when they get back into their working routine. With the December calendar full of workplace fun events, it can be a challenge to kick-start the year without any festivities on the horizon.

Having a sense that there is nothing to look forward to was cited as one of the top reasons that employees struggle in January, according to a recent study by SPANA.

The HR team and employers could put on some activities for staff such as team-building informal drinks breaks or fun quizzes.

#3 Consider work environment

In any work environment, it's crucial that employees feel safe and able to raise any concerns that they have or share mental health challenges that they may be facing.

Especially if staff are feeling nervous about returning to work, whether it be the office or from their own home, being able to speak up about it is important.

HR leaders and businesses should encourage open dialogue with colleagues and reduce the stigma around mental health at work – by encouraging open dialogues about mental wellbeing and discussing the support available if necessary.