Anyone who knows me, knows that summer is my absolute favourite season of the year. It never feels long enough to me and I always want to maximize all the great things that come along with warmer temperatures. Finding ways for employees to embrace the joy of the summer season while maintaining productivity is the challenge of all leaders.
Avoiding a “Summer Slump” at Work
When the weather is warm and sunny, some of your team members might find it tough to be mentally – and sometime physically – focused on work. This can be especially true in Canada where summers are relatively short. It’s only natural that many people want to take advantage of the warm weather and get outside. I certainly do! Unfortunately, this often means that productivity suffers. The reality of what has to get done can be more easily lost when there are patios to enjoy, mid-day baseball games to attend, and ice cream trucks ringing their bells.
Sometimes, team members are distracted by good weather and that, in turn, keeps them distracted from work. At other times, people are more likely to call in “sick” so that they can spend some more time on fun things. Obviously, this can have a negative affect on productivity (and engagement) as well.
Here’s what you can do to keep your team motivated, happy, and productive during the summer.
Have a More Relaxed Atmosphere
Unless you have clients visiting the office, the summer can be a good chance to let things become a bit more casual at work. If your workplace typically has a dress code, consider loosening it and allowing jeans, t-shirts, sundresses, and even flip flops. However, it’s important that you still stress professionalism and that you set guidelines around what is and isn’t appropriate.
Summer can also be a good time to change up the music at work for something more upbeat or to add some seasonable fruits to the offerings in the break room. This can make the atmosphere a bit more enjoyable.
Get in the summer fun spirit by decorating the office in a beach theme or serving non-alcoholic summer cocktails. By embracing a more ‘easy breezy’ summer vibe your work environment can be more enjoyable.
Have “Walking Meetings” Outdoors
A lot of people want to get outdoors during the summer. You can at least partially scratch this itch by having meetings outdoors whenever possible. You might even want to try a “walking meeting” where the team goes for a walk around the neighbourhood while discussing the day’s agenda. Of course, if you choose this option, you’ll need to be aware that not everyone can – or wants to – walk around outside, so you might want to have alternate options available as well. Even sitting on a park bench to meet with colleague scan change the environment enough that employees feel more energized. At n-gen we like walking meeting and longer, more detailed discussions on a patio with some summer treats.
Schedule Some Special Events
Hold a company barbecue, an after-work softball game, or another fun activity that gets people outside. Not only will this give employees a chance to enjoy the weather, but it will also help improve team bonding and enhance engagement. If your team has fun together, they’re more likely to also get along at work, which will improve productivity.
Set “Summer Hours”
I mentioned summer hours in a blog post a few weeks ago, and giving your team some additional time off during the summer can certainly be good for productivity and morale. This may not be possible in all organizations but, if it is, you might want to maximize the benefits and leverage summer hours as a great ‘perk’ of working in your organization.
If you can’t give your team additional time off, you might want to consider allowing more flexible schedules during the summer or increasing the opportunities for remote work.
In North America so many employees don’t take the vacation time that they are entitled to. However, vacations are beneficial for both team members and their organizations. During the summer, encourage people to actually use their vacation time. When they return, they’ll be more refreshed and ready to go. For many businesses summer can be a slower season which affords the opportunity for vacation time. If your business is swamped during the summer, encourage mini vacations by having employees create long weekend by taking Friday or Monday off. Even a few days of fun in the sun and rejuvenate a busy team member.
Obviously if too many people take vacation at once your ability to meet internal and external customer needs will be impacted. For this reason, it’s important to have a clear vacation policy. Make sure to clearly communicate when team members need to submit their vacation requests as well as the organization’s policy for who gets priority on days when too many people request the same time off. This will not only prevent feelings of favouritism, but being organized will also allow you to schedule things better and manage time more effectively.
As president and co-founder of n-gen People Performance Inc., Giselle is dedicated to building strategies and programs that target, motivate and engage a multigenerational workforce. She is a sought after resource to industry leaders, having worked with 18 of the top Fortune 500 companies. Over 60,000 people globally have experienced an n-gen workshop or presentation. She has devoted more than fifteen years to researching the impact that generational differences have on organizational performance. Giselle has co-authored two books: Loyalty Unplugged: How to Get, Keep & Grow All Four Generations and Upgrade Now: 9 Advanced Leadership Skills. She has a Master’s degree in communication studies from the University of Windsor.