Summer can be a challenging time to properly manage a team. Vacation time, nice weather, and other distractions can often draw away from productivity. It’s not surprising that it’s fairly common for business to slow down across multiple industries over the summer months.
While it can be difficult to balance priorities, it’s still important for management to provide a strong work-life balance for their team, particularly during the summer. In fact, rest and relaxation for a team can actually empower them to be more productive throughout the year.
That said, it’s a very fine balance between providing support for your team and ensuring that everything keeps moving forward through the summer slump.
This article will provide 4 critical tips to help you keep your team happy and productive throughout the summer months.
Summer Hours Are Effective
Summer office hours are a fantastic example of how a company can facilitate a highly productive work-life balance during the summer.
There are a few different ways to implement summer office hours, but the benefits are clear. There are studies that show that employees are 78% more productive when they are provided with flexibility within their working hours.
Similar to the concept of ‘core hours’, summer office hours help give teams the freedom to enjoy the summer, and the ability to keep a clear, fresh mind, while still keeping them focused on critical tasks that need to be pushed forward.
Here are a few ways to implement summer office hours:
- Reduce the daily hours of employees on a set schedule (ie. 10 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday)
- Provide flex hours and allow employees to set their own schedules based on a minimum hour count
- Set project deadlines and allow teams to set internal timelines for daily tasks
- End one day early per week. For example, Fridays could end at 2pm in July and/or August.
Encourage Early Vacation Planning
It’s highly recommended for companies to actually encourage their employees to take days off, as vacations provide an opportunity to decompress from work, foster new perspectives on old challenges and refresh energy to tackle ongoing business challenges.
However, vacations can sometimes become stressful – for both employer and employee, if they are not planned properly. No one wants to leave for a break if it means that they will be returning to a mountain of work. It can also be hard for a team to lose a key player in the middle of a project.
That said, early scheduling of employee vacations can help ensure:
- Teams are properly supported when they need it the most
- Vacation conflicts are avoided across the team
- Project success is secured despite relaxed team participation
Begin encouraging your employees to think about when they might like to take a break this summer earlier in the year, and your entire team will benefit.
Manage Client Expectations
It’s just as critical to manage client expectations during the summer as it is to manage internal expectations and scheduling.
Most people understand the need for a vacation and are open-minded with schedules if they are communicated in advance. This is particularly important with clients since a ‘surprise’ one-week delay due to a vacation could be met with a lot of disappointment and anxiety.
This can also make it stressful for employees to take vacation or prevent them from fully enjoying their time off if they are worried about their inboxes being flooded with emails from upset clients, which ultimately nullifies the benefits of vacation.
Here’s a few strategies for managing client expectations during the summer:
- Provide project timelines that fully capture employee availability
- Establish protocols and inform clients of interim points-of-contact when employees are on vacation
- Provide deliverables that require client activity before vacation to ensure that the project keeps moving forward
A smart method to keep a team motivated during the summer is to offer bonuses or incentives for excelling in their productivity. This can be a positive way to keep employees engaged with their work and to reward them for doing a good job across the company despite any summer doldrums.
Productivity contests don’t need to be ‘massive’ to be effective. Even small prizes or lifestyle benefits can boost motivation and productivity over the summer.
It’s a way to let employees know that you value their time and efforts, while still encouraging them to keep pushing through the summer slump.
Here are a few ideas for productivity contests:
- Offer extra vacation days or flex hours for employees who complete certain tasks before deadline
- Offer cash incentives for employees who exceed a certain milestone
- Establish team rewards based on project completion and success
No matter how you approach managing the summer slump, it’s important to keep in mind that aggressively pushing work as a priority will probably do more harm than good. You could end up losing some of your most critical employees if you push them to the brink without encouraging a healthy work-life balance. At the same time, you’ll earn immeasurable good will if you support your team in taking the breaks they need.
Employees need breaks to be fully productive members of a team and if that is what they desire during the summer – no amount of pressure or strict policies will change that.
Many companies report that when they put their employee’s lives first, their work output actually benefits beyond expectation. Give employees a happy life and this will give your company happy employees.
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