It’s getting to be that time again. The temperature is rising, the sun is shining and vacation plans are looming. We all look forward to summer. But, as the owner of a company, it tends to encompass some challenges. How do you keep your employees motivated when all they want to do is spend time somewhere else?
According to a study of 600 white-collar workers, Captivate Networks found that summer has a negative impact on the workplace.
“People report productivity goes down (20 percent), attendance dips (19 percent), project turnaround times increase (13 percent) and they are more distracted (45 percent),” according to the report.
At CMA, we try to incorporate summer fun into the workday. During the months of May, June, July and August, we have biweekly outdoor company picnics involving a grill, several picnic tables and a pile of hot dogs and burgers. Employees pitch in, potluck style, by bringing appetizers, side dishes and desserts. For an hour, we simply enjoy each other’s company, without talk of deadlines, clients or reports. Our biweekly company picnics have proven to also be opportunities for team building and increasing staff relations. For example, once we asked employees to submit their baby pictures and then tried to identify each person by their photo. Another time we had everyone submit a little-known fact about themselves and took turns guessing which fact belonged to each employee.
We have a committee of employees that regularly plan fun outings for the entire staff. Sometimes it’s an egg hunt for Easter, once in a while it’s a happy hour after work hours, and other times it’s as simple as community driven volunteer opportunities. These are moments where all levels of staff can get away from desks, paperwork and phone calls.
If it’s a beautiful day outside and employees have internal meetings planned, the company advocates for attendees to move their meeting outside at the picnic tables to enjoy the beautiful weather. However, while everyone wants to have meetings on a sunny 70-degree day, no one wants to do so in black slacks and long sleeve shirts. This led to us instituting a summer dress code where employees are allowed to wear shorts in the office on Fridays.
Now, here’s my strongest piece of advice: when your employees are on their scheduled vacation, make them BE on vacation. That means strongly encouraging them not to check email, voicemail, or be in touch with clients. Coworkers pitch in to make sure the vacationing employee doesn’t feel like he or she needs to work. Managers and leadership use careful consideration in contacting the vacationing employee with requests or questions, except in case of emergency. Let your employees unplug fully and they’ll be able to immerse themselves in time off and come back to work fully refreshed.
Summer is inevitable and employees are bound to want to be out of the office. With some small adjustments, you can keep your employees motivated through every season. It boils down to understanding people’s basic needs and what drives their seasonal happiness, whether it’s holiday cheer or Vitamin D.