5 tips to help keep your employees productive this summer
Everyone loves summer. From sitting outside in the sunshine to the long, bright evenings – things just seem more charming. After a stressful eighteen months of the COVID-19 pandemic, with vaccinations on the up, a semblance of normality is starting to return.
As a business, avoiding productivity dips during the summer months can be challenging. The ever-changing demands of the workforce require adaptation. New strategies need to be implemented in order to ensure there isn’t a drop in employee engagement and motivation. But what does this mean for your internal comms? Between employee vacations, school holidays, pandemic fatigue, and the lovely weather, getting the attention your content deserves can be an uphill struggle.
A drop in productivity
The sunshine is beaming, and the office is feeling less and less appealing. It’s often hard to focus on the job at hand when the weather is nice. A study by university teams in Greece and Denmark found that rising temperatures make it more challenging to work. The heat decreases brain functionality, causing a struggle with precise logic tasks. Researchers even claimed that this reduced mental performance could impact a driver’s ability to make quick decisions on the road. So if employees are facing a lack of energy and motivation, there could be a scientific basis for it, rather than a diminishing desire to work.
The hot weather, upcoming vacations, and employee’s relaxed attitudes can result in a significant summer slump in productivity. While many businesses experience a drop in pipeline activity during the summer months, internal efficiency can also take a hit. Digital media company Captivate found that summer causes a 20% drop in productivity on average. Projects also take 13% longer to complete than in the colder months. But what causes this, and can internal communications reengage employees to ensure fewer distractions in the workplace?
If the work pipeline looks a little slower than usual, some employees can lose momentum. And that’s fine; no one expects employees to work long and hard hours constantly. Doing so puts employees at risk of burnout, which is not a good outcome for anyone. Give workers a chance to recharge and return refreshed, by supporting annual leave requests. After a relaxing break, many come back and are ready to hit the ground running. Caring about employee welfare shows staff appreciation and encouraging a good work/life balance is a reward for hard work. But for those that remain, it doesn’t mean that summer should indicate a complete lack of business progress. Otherwise, it’s likely some will spend the following months frantically trying to catch up.
We’re all going on a summer holiday
Employees often take time off in the summer, due to school holidays and the nice weather. Trips abroad may have dropped off slightly due to the impact of the pandemic, but staycations have risen in popularity over the past year. When multiple team members are away on vacation, this causes delays to projects and a lack of movement in sign-off. Quite simply, sparse staffing caused by annual leave means less advancement for the business. It can be a struggle to keep projects on track.
14 steps to great internal communications
May to September are busy times for summer vacations, but businesses can’t simply shut down for five months of the year. Setting expectations is key to keeping staff motivated and momentum high. Everyone likes to relax in the sun, but the work still needs to be completed to a high standard, whether it is summer or not. Encouraging a productive workplace and keeping employee attitudes positive, even when efficiency is waning, isn’t always easy. It’s essential to get a handle on the issue by acknowledging the importance of a good work-life balance. Engage with them on their needs while also noting the requirement to keep the business moving forward. That’s where internal communications can help.
Here are five expert tips to ensure that your workplace activity doesn’t take a summer holiday:
1) Develop a plan
When the summer is coming up, it helps to plan, plan, plan! Make an internal communications strategy to keep people motivated and excited at ongoing work activities. Ensure that there is no crossover with team vacations by planning ahead for any prospective holidays. Managers should establish a clear annual leave policy to outline that plenty of notice is needed, especially if multiple team members are already on holiday that particular week. This stipulation guarantees that teams always have the required cover when needed.
Keep the momentum going for remaining staff, even when a couple are on summer vacation, by ensuring there is a well-communicated plan in place. Make sure that employees are aware of deadlines and targets so that goals are transparent despite vacation time. Taking annual leave is highly recommended, but the business must stay on track during the employee’s absence. Summertime passes quickly, and without an established plan, there may be a scramble to catch up to targets or hit deadlines when the autumn comes around. A clearly communicated plan prevents this and ensures that the team continues to operate despite fluctuations in numbers. Organizing them in this way encourages collaboration and prevents information silos. It also gives others a chance for some more senior tasks outside their regular job description.
2) Be understanding about other commitments
Many employees take time off in the summer to look after their children during their school holidays. It’s worth remembering that this disproportionately affects female workers. Having an understanding and being adaptable is an excellent way to prove the workplace is inclusive. Family responsibilities and managing work can be a headache, but a bit of flexibility without harming productivity can make all the difference. It shows staff that you appreciate and understand their position; that their family isn’t a problem.
Trust employees to get tasks done, even if they have to work slightly odd hours for a period. Introducing flexibility and home working prevents unnecessary absences. It allows employees to remain productive and operate around their changing summer schedules. This workplace freedom prevents gaps in projects, and employees can avoid using holiday time to cover for a more rigid schedule. Flexibility when working limits the amount of time off that staff need to take for childcare during the summer months.
14 steps to great internal communications
Hybrid working has been a considerable success during COVID-19. It has proven that many can operate perfectly well from their home. So don’t force staff to choose between the two and allow them to complete tasks to the best of their ability in a time that is suitable to their summer schedule. State this on the work intranet and throughout your internal communication strategy.
3) Engage with employees on performance initiatives
Using the time wisely over the summer months can be beneficial. The second half of the year is usually busy for most companies. Valuable preparation time can be spent in the summer to ensure that a solid foundation is laid. Utilize periods when teams aren’t full, or the pipeline is limited, to realign priorities and reassess any strategies. The slower summer months should be used to catch up on any projects that have fallen to the wayside. That could be a rebrand, increased employee training, or a creative session for future projects. Make sure to communicate any changes to the team and keep everyone concentrated on future deliverables.
It’s also an opportunity to focus on employee development and performance management. Now could be the time to reengage with workers and ensure that their progression is still on track within the organization. Review and evaluate yearly goals and tasks, with new support offered if needed. It’s essential to continue to invest in these employee practices, particularly to keep them motivated in their role and concentrating on the work ahead. The summer months provide the optimal opportunity to direct employee attention to their own training and development, and gain some internal insights at the same time.
4) Have a summer party
Of course, getting the job done is essential, and those deadlines are never going away. But encouraging a little relaxation by hosting a summer party can give workers a welcome break and offer the chance to have some fun in the sun. Hosting an event encourages camaraderie and rewards employees for their hard work. Whether it is a daytime BBQ or a few after-work cocktails, everyone loves a summer social. And it can provide an opportunity for employees to get to know each other outside of the traditional workplace environment, creating positive energy and emphasizing culture.
Take photos of the event and post them on the workplace intranet. Employees can then view them at their leisure. Use them for internal communications, such as a yearly roundup. They can also be utilized for external recruitment campaigns, to show off the exciting social environment of the business. Summer parties can have a significant impact on employee motivation and engagement. So, make the most out of the event, and enjoy the productivity increase as a result.
5) Supercharge your summer internal communications
With decreased numbers logging on, it might be tempting to let internal communications slip during the summer months. But this is a great time to encourage some fun, user-generated content. If staff have traveled anywhere unique, ask them to write about it on the work intranet. Promote any special summer activities; whether it’s as simple as getting out for a trip to another office, some after-work drinks in the sun, or a company sports team winning a match. Don’t forget to mix the content production up. Encourage the use of photos and videos to really give internal communications a summery vibe.
Summer can bring distractions, so keep employees focused with internal communications. Aside from posting summer-themed content, use any spare time to reevaluate the internal communication strategy for the remaining year. Are employees engaging with the content, and does it represent the business in the best way possible? Is there anything else you could post to create an additional buzz around the intranet?
Use the quieter period as an opportunity to take a look at some existing internal communication practices and refresh them. By being flexible with staff, and rewarding them with a social outing or two, you can ensure that they are motivated and happy for the remainder of the year. Communicating and planning through the intranet means that even with spread-out teams and distractions, employees can stay on task and keep the business productive.