The summer months are a wonderful opportunity for escape, to relax and take a breath and enjoy a little relief from the long, hard, cold months of winter and all that work.
And that’s exactly why so many managers have a hard time keeping their teams focused and productive when the summer clothes and hats start to come out of storage.
But it is possible to keep things humming along between May and September! These five months don’t have to be sacrificed or a time of reduced productivity, provided employee requests for time off are handled well, and everyone understands that work is needed before play can happen.
Here are a few ways to keep your team cranking during the summer.
Make working more enjoyable.
Level-set from the beginning with your team and acknowledge that you know they’d all rather be somewhere else than working, especially on those all-too-fleeting beautiful days. The past year was hard, and we all deserve a break and a little fun. If possible, try to provide little treats or rewards for your team as the summer goes on, whether that’s bringing in a food truck for lunch or ice cream as a snack or hosting a big company-wide family picnic. If you can move meetings outside, try it. Otherwise, they’ll be more inclined to look out the window and feel kind of resentful for being inside all the time.
Let people take time off.
Whether it’s accrued paid time off guaranteed as a condition of their job offer or unpaid time off for contractors or substitutes, work with your team to ensure people who want to take a few days, or a week, off during the summer can do so. Workers who feel like they can’t leave or take the time they’ve earned are unhappy, feel stressed, and are less productive than those who know they can take breaks when they want. Even if they’re not traveling due to COVID restrictions or concerns, a few days away from work can help refresh workers, allowing them to come back with a better sense of focus and concentration on the job at hand. But be upfront if there are too many people asking for a particular day or week off: if you need to implement a “first come, first served” policy, be open about it and let people know what’s available.
Encourage priorities and be clear about them.
If there are some tasks that absolutely must get done by a certain deadline, make that clear. If vacations can’t happen until a big order is filled or until a project is completed, that’s a powerful incentive to work hard and stay attuned to the task at hand. Be open to discussing priority lists, from a company perspective, with your team as needed. If they know what’s important, they can help contribute in a more effective way. It will also let them know they’re spending their time in the best way possible.
Consider alternative work arrangements.
Not every company can entertain requests to work from home, but are there other situations that can be adopted for the summer to keep people working and able to juggle family priorities too? Or if environmental factors are a consideration, like working in tight spaces where hot temperatures make working conditions uncomfortable, would it be possible to shift working hours to either earlier in the morning or later in the evening to get things done without sacrificing comfort or health? Some companies have employees work longer days during the week in the summer, allowing them to have shorter Friday schedules. Consider your options and see what might fit you.
Take a vacation yourself.
This might seem counterintuitive but show your team you mean business and are serious about them using their vacation time by taking one. This means you’ll have to agree to unplug, leave the email off, and the work phone aside unless it’s for an absolute emergency. Lead by example. You’ve earned your time off too!
We’re finally starting to turn a corner and return to normal life, just in time for the weather to improve. Things slow down in the summer, but they don’t have to grind to a halt. Find a happy compromise that allows people to stay productive while daydreaming about a well-earned vacation, and you’ll keep everything rolling smoothly.
If you’re looking for other pieces of advice, or maybe a new team member to join your organization, contact Debbie’s Staffing. We have a great group of candidates with the skills you need just waiting to join your team! Contact us today, and let’s get to work.