For too many employers, summer represents a time when workers exhibit low energy and an even lower desire to do their work.
But that doesn’t have to be the summer forecast for your business.
Lehigh Valley Business has enlisted the help of experts to offer advice on how to keep employees engaged even during the laziest, haziest, craziest days of summer.
“Summer is different mainly because kids are out of school…the whole world turns upside down,” said Randy Harrington, Ph.D. and co-author of Evolutionaries: Transformational Leadership, The Missing Link in Your Organizational Chart: (Inkwater Press).
“The most important realization is we really are seasonal creatures.”
Leaders who acknowledge the changes happening in their employees lives can make a huge difference in the productivity of their workers.
“Even if you just formally acknowledge the change, you can go such a long way towards increasing employees’ feeling of connection,” Harrington said.
When employees don’t have that sense of connection, a downward spiral of bad behavior begins. Employees can begin misrepresenting the truth to get out of work or slacking off, surfing the Internet while working and more, Harrington said.
By offering projects that get employees out of their day-to-day routines, employers can help them bust out of those summer doldrums.
“(During summer) It’s quieter, there’s not as much energy in the air to keep people going… companies need to find ways that can create positive energy,” said Tina Hamilton, president and CEO of hireVision in Allentown.
Cross-departmental projects, for example, can offer an opportunity for employees to get excited about coming to work.
Harrington uses the example of an IT and a marketing department working together to develop special sales apps for mobile phones.
“That’s something that won’t happen as part of the day-to-day business journey,” he said.
Companies and their employees can also take the time to set goals for the remainder of the year which will give everyone something to work towards.
“People can be developing goals and plans to reach those goals. That could really get people motivated,” said Hamilton.
Allowing for flexible schedules or offering telecommuting options, if possible, can also reduce worker fatigue, said Harrington.
Hamilton agreed. At hireVision, for example, the office closes at 2 p.m. every other Friday during the summer.
Summer also provides opportunities for employees and company owners to attend professional development symposiums and lectures.
“I believe the economy is in a functional transition,” said Harrington. “Maybe even a transformation. I don’t think the economy is going to bounce directly back; it’s going in a different angle consistent with our digital capabilities… anybody needs to be on a professional development track.
“If you’re not learning you’re part of the problem,”
One thing employers should try to avoid, Harrington and Hamilton agree, are hokey “‘fake fun’ events that are usually perceived as a waste of time and /or money.
“I actually saw a memo that said ‘Lunchtime Luau: Attendance is Mandatory.’ Fun is key, but it better be authentic,” Harrington said.
While all of these suggestions can work when used on their own, it’s important for business leaders to give employees the feeling they are involved in doing something significant, too.
“Just because a lot of the things seem like ‘duh’ they really need a disciplined execution in a company and requires the leaders who actually do this to look at it as being a little bit more complex,” said Harrington.
“The leaders that are actually doing this are masterful and impressive people.”
“Watch when you see somebody doing it right and ask them lots of questions,” he said