As the days get longer and the temperature starts to rise, attention spans get shorter and work ethic begins to take a dip at the office. According to a study by Captivate Network, workplace productivity drops 20% between June and August. In addition, office attendance falls by 19% and project turnaround time increases 13%.
While it’s important that employees take a vacation (so that they can be more productive when they return), it can be a challenge to keep the entire group engaged and motivated during the summer months when the office is quieter, team members are away on vacation, and the sunny weather gleaming through the windows has everyone daydreaming of being at the beach or spending time with the kids.
Though you’ll never be able to completely avoid a summertime lull in your workplace, you can manage it. Read on for six ways you can keep your employees engaged, focused and motivated during the summer months.
1. Be flexible – Whether you institute summer hours or work from home options, giving your workforce some flexibility with their schedule can boost morale and motivate them to do their work. Depending on the operations of your organization, a flexible summer schedule may involve allowing employees to put in an extra hour of work Monday through Thursday so they can leave early on Fridays. It could also mean giving your employees freedom to choose their working hours, for instance, they can come in earlier if they want to leave early to head to the shore or spend time with the family. You can also consider allowing employees to work from home, which will give them a sense of work-life balance and further encourage them to do their work and stay on track. According to a study by Opinion Research Corporation, roughly 66% of employees who have summer schedules feel more productive.
2. Ease up on the dress code – Wearing a full business suit or slacks during the warm summer months is not comfortable for anyone. With a few guidelines in place, you may want to consider allowing employees to dress more casually during the summer. When employees are more comfortable, they are in a better mood, less distracted, and feel more engaged.
3. Get outside – Consider hosting brainstorming sessions or weekly meetings outside. Getting your employees outdoors for some fresh air and sunshine—and giving them a break from their computer screen—can boost their creativity, restore focus, and provide a bit of stress relief – all of which will have a positive impact on the overall team dynamic.
4. Offer learning opportunities – With the pace of the workplace slowing down, summer is the ideal time to set up training seminars to help employees hone and expand their skills. While it may seem counterproductive to host training sessions while some employees are on vacation, the employees who are present for training events will most likely have fewer scheduling conflicts and will greatly appreciate the opportunity to learn something new and engage in their own career management. In addition, training sessions with smaller groups often result in more personal attention from the facilitator, greater participation and engagement from the group, and a more customized focus on the specific topics, skills, and needs of the individuals in the group.
5. Plan company activities or outings – All work and no play won’t benefit employees or the company, so plan to have a little fun with your workers during the summer. Organize a team building event outdoors or at an offsite location, such as a room escape. Host a summer-themed event at the office such as a Hawaiian happy hour, ice cream social, or BBQ. Or consider getting your company involved in a community service event. Incorporating events into your workday will give employees something to look forward to, create a positive work environment, boost employee happiness, and encourage stronger engagement.
6. Offer incentives and rewards for exceeding goals – Even though the office vibe may be more relaxed during the summer months, work still needs to get done. Keep employees on task by offering incentives such as gift cards, tickets to sporting events or theme parks, or the chance to accrue additional PTO time. This will keep employees driven and focused on their assignments, as well as promote friendly competition. It will also show your employees how much you appreciate their hard work, making them feel more connected to the company.
The key to keeping your employees engaged in the summer is to embrace the season rather than fight it. Treat the slower pace of the summer months as an opportunity to recognize and reconnect with your employees, change up the normal office routine, and boost morale. Most of all, encourage your staff to take time off from work to relax and refresh. Studies indicate that having employees take regular and long vacations doesn’t just increase their performance and productivity but also improves work morale and employee retention.