As Kiwis return to the 9 to 5 grind after a summer break, many may be questioning if they're happy in their jobs.

But before a rash resignation, it's important to figure out whether you really want a change or just have a case of the back-to-work blues.

Tom O'Neil, managing director of career consultancy, said it was common for workers to return from a holiday feeling dissatisfied.

"They've probably engaged in a whole bunch of stuff that they really enjoy doing - being on the water, spending time with friends, that sort of thing - and it's another 50 weeks before the next big summer holidays.


"We taste freedom. We taste what it's like not to have the boss down your neck, to not have to meet your KPIs, to not have to do all those things. I think it's just a natural thing to think, 'cool let's have a break'.

"But I think we are wired in many respects to want to work in some way, shape or form and want to actually be productive as human beings."

For most, finding going back to work difficult was "just a knee jerk reaction", but for others it was a sign they were unhappy in their role.

Careers coach Tom O'Neil says it's normal for workers to struggle with adjusting to the 9 to 5 routine after a holiday. Photo / File
Careers coach Tom O'Neil says it's normal for workers to struggle with adjusting to the 9 to 5 routine after a holiday. Photo / File

O'Neil said asking the following questions about their work could help people figure out it was time for a change of job:

• Am I fulfilling my passion?
• Do I feel like I'm making a difference?
• Do I like the people I work with?
• Do I like my boss?
&bulll; Am I going to be challenged this year?
• Am I going to have some positive, exciting opportunities in 2018?

"If you can say yes to some or most of those chances are things are going to be positive," he said.

"If you're looking ahead and thinking 'I don't like my boss', 'I don't like my colleagues', 'I feel like I'm doing the same thing', 'there's no challenge', and 'there's no chance to develop', it's certainly time to reconsider."

He added it could take two to three weeks for people to get over the back-to-work blues.


Planning a holiday for later in the year and taking a longer break could also help worn out workers.

O'Neil said if workers decided the New Year was the right time for a new job, they shouldn't quit straight away and then go job hunting.

Instead, job seekers should spend some time working on their CV, think carefully about what they valued in a job and visualise where they wanted their career to be in 10 years' time.

"Most people don't do that. Most people just jump from job to job to job. But for an actual fact they really need to be more strategic in their thinking and think 'career wise what actually would I like to do' rather than 'what do I have to do'? Where do my gifts lie? What am I passionate about?"

Many people confused being good at something with it being "their calling" but a successful career generally involved work that people were both good at an enjoyed, he said.

How to get through the back-to-work blues
• Be patient with yourself - it will probably take some time to adjust to routine
• Don't freak out - it's normal
• Plan a holiday so you have something to look forward to