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Summer has arrived, bringing with it that awkward period of time when it can be difficult to keep employees motivated. Staff are in and out of the office jetting off on their jollies; parents are taking time off to look after their little ones; the hot weather sees energy levels dwindle; and you may notice people mysteriously coming down with the flu, food poisoning or the plague as heatwaves strike. Not only that, but things just generally feel a little quieter, with suppliers and clients all experiencing the same summertime slump.
So what can you do to maintain morale and make sure your business stays productive over the summer months? While free ice creams and ‘shorts and flip flops’ concessions can certainly provoke a temporary boost in mood while the sun’s got his hat on, the summer can also serve as an ideal time to look at the wider picture when it comes to staff engagement.
So, if you want to keep your employees in good spirits right through until autumn – and beyond – read on.
We all know that familiar routine can go out the window at the height of summer, particularly for working parents who find themselves with six weeks of childcare to coordinate while their children enjoy the holidays. Rather than exacerbate this stress with the rigidity of strict shift patterns, consider looking at ways your business could be more flexible to accommodate the needs of your staff who, after all, are your most important asset.
This could mean allowing employees to start earlier or later, arrange shift swaps with colleagues or to work from home where possible. While this may sound like a logistical nightmare, once again in this day and age technology comes to the rescue. An all-singing, all-dancing piece of time and attendance software can make such activity a breeze. Not only will your staff appreciate the trust afforded to them, but it’s been proven time and time again that employees with more autonomy are more productive – a win-win.
In higher-level management, it can be easy to fall into the ‘us and them’ trap, dominating the boardroom decisions while relegating staff lower down the ranks to positions where they simply follow instructions borne of those decisions. However, exercises where staff members of all levels collaborate to devise a strategy not only throw up valid ideas that otherwise wouldn’t have been suggested, but are hugely effective in instilling employees with a sense of achievement, ownership and satisfaction.
Next time you’re holding a discussion or brainstorm about a certain project, and summer is often a time you have enough breathing space to do so, considering inviting a few unfamiliar faces – who knows what could result!
‘Hot desking’, where employees switch departments for a day, and ‘shadowing’, where they observe the goings-on of a colleague, often crop up in meetings held to boost motivation among staff – both with the aim of employees gaining greater insight into the business as a whole. Post-meeting, however, these slide further and further down the to-do list, eventually dropping off along with setting up weekly yoga classes and putting a suggestions box in place.
Summer gives you the perfect opportunity to freshen things up. Get people to trade jobs – with a little guidance, of course – even for just an afternoon and you’re bound to see more switched-on employees who have a greater understanding of and appreciation for other roles in the company. It may even spark an appetite among staff to learn even more about the wider business, which can only be a good thing.