As summer approaches, the changing weather brings to mind tropical vacations, seabreezes, and palm trees. If you’re having these daydreams, or you’re getting barraged by Facebook notifications from friends on the beaches of Cabo, you know your employees are too.
So how can you keep your team focused instead of feeling cooped-up through the summer? Here are some tips to keep morale almost as high as the temperatures outside:
- Outdoor meetings and events: Human beings aren’t wired to look out the window all day when the weather is beautiful, while trapped inside. Stepping out of the office and into the sunlight with your team is a great way to relax and recharge together. Taking a team picnic or an excursion to an amusement park not only provides a welcome respite, but it also helps your workers to enjoy each other’s company more – so that they don’t yearn for a getaway quite as much. On a more routine basis, consider holding weekly meetings outside your building if possible, or take a group walk for 30 minutes once a week. Getting more sunlight produces Vitamin D in the body, which is thought to increase the brain’s release of mood-boosting hormone called serotonin.
- Flexible worktime. Working parents have to take time off to accommodate kids who are home from school and in and out of camp or recreation programs. To make your workplace more attractive to parents, engender loyalty, and to prevent unplanned time off (employees using sick days), consider implementing flexible work hours or summer Fridays. Younger workers who aren’t yet parents appreciate the flexibility this provides as well, and earning their loyalty is even more important from a retention and succession perspective. Options include a 4-day workweek with 9-10 hour workdays instead of 8-9 hours and allowing the flexibility for employees to work nights at home to make up for lost hours during the day. You may also want to be a little bit more encouraging of taking PTO during the summer so that employees will be able to notify you in advance, rather than take sudden sick days.
- Summer bonuses. Provide financial incentives for employees who work more than a set number of hours during the summer time frame. If that bonus is $1,000, it could amount to a company-paid vacation for employees who take trips in May or September instead of July or August. You may even want to add value to this benefit by promoting the incentive as a company-paid vacation (up to a certain dollar amount). Bonuses can also be given to employees who take on the burden of extra work when others take vacation leave.
- Productivity-enhancing lighting. The all-too-common artificial fluorescent lighting in most office buildings has been proven to increase stress and sleepiness while reducing happiness and productivity. Indeed, this could be the asbestos of our time! So take advantage of natural light from outside by opening up window shades, so that you can turn off a few of the fluorescent lights.
- Professional development opportunities. Your company already invests heavily in employee training and development, or at least it should. Consider allocating more of these resources in the summer months, when employees would most like an escape from the ordinary routine. Whether you invest in internal training or industry association conventions and workshops, keeping employees interested, engaged, and focused on their long-term career goals will help to overcome short-term distractions.
As a manager, your acknowledgement of how employees are affected by the summer season alone contributes to a more honest, welcoming culture that employees will appreciate. Taking proactive steps to assure their job satisfaction during these months will only further enhance their positive impressions of you and your organization.