In summer, it’s easy for your employees to get lost in their thoughts: daydreaming about the beach, the mountains and exotic destinations. You may be just as distracted as your workforce. So, what’s the best way to deal with the doldrums at work? First, acknowledge that it’s often harder to motivate employees in the summer months. If you’re a savvy manager, you’ll find creative ways to keep your employees engaged on the job, even when they’re busy thinking about their travel plans.
Here are a few smart and easy ways to keep employees productive:
Plan Schedules Well
Before you confront a problem, remind employees to schedule vacations well in advance of the date. Of course, you’ll want enough coverage in the office during the summer, but you’ll also need to give your employees some needed time off. Start working with your staff early so as many people as possible can get the vacation time they’ve asked for.
Employees need to know vacation requests are handled first-come, first-served (assuming that is how you do it in your workplace). It’s smart to have a well-staffed office, even in the summer, and this means you’ll need some senior and junior staff there at any given time. So, remember to think about that when you plan the summer vacation schedule.
Reward the Best and Brightest
If you usually schedule employee review time near the end of the year, you might want to consider changing that to fall right after summer vacation time. If that sounds a bit odd, realize it is a good strategic move, as people often try to up their game close to review time. Remind your staff that reviews will happen in September, and this will be a free way to keep people motivated to do their best at a time when they might otherwise slack off.
You might want to tell your office staff you’re even willing to reward the best employee of the summer with a small bonus (based on some measurable goal, like sales figures).
When it comes to motivation, remember cold, hard cash is one of the best ways to reward them, especially if they are saving for an upcoming trip. If you’re operating on a shoestring budget, and can’t give cash awards, an extra day or two of paid time off can be highly motivating.
Consider Summer Hours
If your employees are running on empty, it’s likely your business partners and clients are experiencing the same thing. If that’s the case, depending on the nature of your business, you might want to close the office on Fridays, for instance. Many businesses get little done on Fridays in the summer anyway.
If you can’t afford to shut down completely on Fridays, think about closing early or operating with less people in the office. Some employers rotate the employees who staff the office on such a day.
Your employees will appreciate the extra time off. It will likely make their hours in the office more productive too. The best way to handle summer hours is to think about the patterns in demand from the summer before. While you’re thinking about patterns, be sure to take note of patterns this summer, so you can use the information next summer.
You might want to offer flex-time during the summer months, if flex-time works for your company. Give employees the option to work longer hours one day and shorter hours the next, or even let them take one day off each week, as long as they’ve worked a full 40-hour week.
Build Office Camaraderie
Circumvent the boredom by taking your employees for an impromptu lunch or order in an inexpensive meal for the staff. The summer is also a great time to schedule an office picnic. This is an inexpensive way to reward your staff and build camaraderie.
Give your employees a day off from work, and have the event during working hours, if you can. Special events like a picnic or a cookout (as long as they don’t put extra work burdens on employees) can be great motivators. And just the opposite, mounting a new, ambitious project in the summer can be demotivating. People will be in and out of the office on vacation, so it might be better to hold new initiatives till the office is fully staffed again.