By Deb LaMere
With summer coming to a close, many at work are still looking to take full-advantage of the good weather – either booking time-off, leaving work early or simply slowing down their pace of output. That said, depending on the business cycle summer can be a quiet time of year for employers too. The question is how do businesses motivate employees who choose to remain at the office? By the same token, how can employers encourage their people to strike a balance between work and summer fun so they remain refreshed, engaged and productive when they are scheduled to work?
To keep employees motivated and productive during the “summer slump,” consider the following tips:
Often organizations choose to have training and team meetings during the summer months. If this is the case at your organization, take advantage of the good weather and conduct your next meeting outside, in the fresh air. A change-up in workplace settings, be it an informal meeting outside on a picnic bench just behind the office or something more elaborate like an offsite retreat, can inspire creativity.
Summer is also a great time of year for planning some outdoor team-building activities with your group, like a bicycle excursion or a BBQ. Getting people away from their desks doing an organized and fun activity not only has teambuilding potential, it will also get employees out in the sunshine, feeling relaxed and recharged.
You may also want to get your workplace wellness program up and running this summer, as people tend to be more inclined to get moving, exercise outside and work on their health and fitness when the weather is favorable. Be it an outdoor yoga class led by a certified instructor or simply a group walk/challenge, do it together and do it outside.
Allow for flexible work options
Work life blending is a reality in today’s world of work, and people need the flexibility from their employers to achieve true work life balance, especially families with kids out of school for summer vacation. For this reason, as business allows, consider flexible work options like allowing people to work from home a few days a week, or let them head out a couple of hours early so long as work is completed. When employers allow for this type of informal flexibility – essentially more time outside of work to attend to family, or just unwind, they can get better results from their people.
Encourage the use of vacation time and plan ahead
Though summer can be a quiet time of year for many employers, it isn’t ideal to have handfuls of employees out of the office at the same time. To help manage office workloads for those who are choosing not to take time off, have people put in vacation requests as early in advance as possible and encourage those who are taking the time off to organize themselves—and their projects—ahead of time. That means managers and employees need to sit down and work together to determine what needs to get done (and delegated accordingly) while they are away and what can wait till they return. Above all, you want to make sure that colleagues who remain in the office can manage the extra workloads without feeling overwhelmed. And you want to make sure that people returning from summer vacation are not greeted with an insurmountable mountain of work immediately upon their return. By concentrating on a few important goals and eliminating unnecessary work, the overall productivity of the team members who are not on vacation will be enhanced.
Plan something special
Sometimes in the doldrums of summer people become restless. Help combat this feeling by organizing special days or treats that can be easily and conveniently enjoyed during working hours, be it a free hot breakfast or an ice cream sandwich or fresh fruit delivery. A small gesture such as this can encourage team work, spread goodwill and help those who find themselves working through the summer feel appreciated.
Deb LaMere is the Vice President of Employee Experience at Ceridian.