As the bell rings on the last day of school the realization that summer is here sinks in for children and adults alike, albeit in different ways.
Children: “We’re off from school for three months!” “It’s officially summer!” “Disney World, here we come!”
Adults: “The kids are out of school...for three months…” “How am I going to concentrate at work all day when it’s so nice outside?” “I wonder if I can take a three month sabbatical….”
The truth is, the summer months are hard for all employees, those with children and those without. It’s no secret that productivity drops during the summer months. According to a 2012 report by Captivate Network, workplace productivity drops an astonishing 20 percent during the summer months. It’s our job as Human Resource professionals to make sure that our employees are just as happy and productive during the summer months as they are throughout the rest of the year. So what can we do to turn the tide on these dog days of summer?
1. Plan Ahead
Summer can arrive just as quickly as it seems to leave us, so it’s important to spend some time earlier in the year planning activities to keep the office an interesting and fun place to be over the summer. Do you have multiple office locations? Plan ahead for a company-wide picnic where all employees can gather to get to know each other while enjoying the warmth. If you don’t have the budget to bring all employees together, utilize technology like Skype or Google Hangouts to have a virtual picnic. It’s important to include all locations, big or small, as to create a foundation of collaboration and teamwork across all facets of the company. Planning ahead for these kinds of activities is a must, as organizing an event with multiple time zones can prove challenging and requires quite a bit of coordination.
2. Establish flexible schedules
While the schedules of our friends and family members change during the summer months, it only makes sense that our employees will require a little more flexibility during these months as well. Here at BRPH we practice flexible scheduling year-round by encouraging employees to arrive somewhere between the hours of 6:30am and 8:30am, and complete their day accordingly. During the summer we have taken the idea of flexible schedules a bit further by instituting an optional Summer Hours program. From June through August, employees are encouraged to work nine hour days Monday through Thursday, and work just four hours on Fridays. This leaves time for an extended weekend to enjoy the sun and spend more time with family and friends. This year marks our third year with Summer Hours, and it’s proven successful across all of our offices.
3. Encourage the use of PTO
Sometimes hiring great talent also means hiring people who work hard and rarely take time off. Paid time off is meant to be taken, and it’s our job to remind employees of that. We use our Summer Hours to promote and encourage the use of PTO for all employees who have it. By having just half of a day of work on Fridays, employees don’t need to use eight hours if they want to take a long weekend away. Summer is a great time for employees to take a little R&R, enjoy the weather and come back rejuvenated and ready to take on their next project.
4. Break up the day with activities
Longer days during the summer can also make workdays feel longer. It’s important to get employees away from their desk during the day, if even for just a few minutes. Implementing lunchtime or mid-afternoon activities encourages employees to step away from their computer and re-energize for the remainder of the day. Planning Lunch and Learn events where outside resources come and make a presentation on an industry or cultural topic of interest is a great place to start. You can also use the lunch hour to host a week long Ping Pong tournament, with a new game taking place each day. For a less formal, quick Wednesday afternoon break, trying bringing an ice cream truck or snack cart to the office and offer employees an afternoon treat on the company. It’s little things like this that keep employees energized and productive during an otherwise normal hump-day.
5. Get involved in the community
There are so many fun, outdoor activities to take part in over the summer, why not do so for a good cause? Studies have proven that donating to charity actually improves your mood, creating a “helping high.” Find out what organizations your employees are passionate about, what events they would like to participate in, and create company-sponsored teams. Look for events like 5k runs, fishing tournaments or volleyball tournaments where employees can get outside, get some exercise and support a good cause in the name of your company. Supporting the community in which you live and work benefits everyone involved, charities and employees alike.