It’s not easy being at work when the sun is shining outside and everyone seems to be on vacation. Employers can do a number of things to boost employee mood and engagement over the summer. Here are four ways to escape the summer slip.
Bring Summer Fun Into Work. Have a local ice creamery set up a scoop station on your front steps, store ice pops in the freezer for employee breaks, raffle baseball tickets at 4pm on a Friday, or give away movie passes to an employee for exceeding a goal.
Change Clothes. As August is approaching, we are experiencing the hottest days of the summer. If the job allows and you have not already done so, consider enacting a summer dress policy or casual Friday. Simple gestures like allowing employees to wear t-shirts for a month can go a long way.
Take Meetings Out of the Office. If your office has a green space, patio, or lounge that gets a lot of natural light, consider having a meeting in a new location to change things up a bit and enjoy the outdoors. If possible have your team join you out for a meeting – grab coffee, meet over lunch or go on an early walk and talk before temperatures get too high. Planning employee field trips to a local site is also a nice way to get out, get to know your staff and refresh.
Allow Employees Some Flexibility. Some companies are open to flexibility during summer to accommodate parents with children out of school, employees who take classes, other scheduling changes, or those who simply want to enjoy the sunshine. If you want to keep employees from calling in sick or using excuses to avoid work on beautiful days, make Fridays (or other days) more flexible or have summer hours or shifts, if possible. Below are a few ways companies adapted their work day during summer and year round.
Rachael Sobon, HR professional at CRP Industries – a bustling warehouse for after-market auto parts made adjustments to daily scheduling. She rolled out an option for employees to work a compressed, four-day schedule in the summer and take part in staggered work shifts starting between 6:30 and 9 a.m., depending on the requirements of the job. And because workers are cross-trained in all the warehouse positions, they can move from one role to another as needed.
The Container Store, a large retailer based in Coppell, Texas, which last year secured the No. 14 spot on Fortune’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For feels communication is key.
Clear communication starts during hiring. Managers are upfront about current business needs, and prospective employees share their needs and hopes. During onboarding, employees hear about the “employee first” culture, which prizes communication.
As workers’ lives change, managers keep the lines of communication open and work to accommodate employees’ scheduling needs as much as possible. “Maybe they’re a student in college, and one semester they have all morning classes and they ask their manager to work afternoons or evenings, and then next semester it flip-flops,” says Karyn Alvarez, director of recruiting for the Container Store.
The supervisor is receptive to the request because she knows it’s coming from a good employee in whom the company has much invested.
Sobon, with CRP Industries also introduced a paid-time-off policy that allows employees to take accrued leave in half-hour increments. Whether they have an eye doctor appointment, are going to a special event with their children or the cable person is coming. “It just gives them flexibility so they’re not stuck in a situation where they have to pretend they’re ill or make up a story,” Sobon explains. Flexibility helps with attendance issues and allows employees to make the best use of their time off. It is also an investment in employee health and retention which can lower costs overall.
Allowing employees some degree of control over their schedules may not only reduce unplanned absences, and help with retention, but can be a major plus for recruitment. The managers of Globe Firefighter Suits gives its workers flexibility in their start times. Most people still come in at the ordinary 6am start time, but the choice of flexibility is there. We were concerned that there would be a bottleneck somewhere,” says HR Manager Gayle Troy. “What we finally wrapped our brains around—and it was difficult to get there—is if a particular employee’s job is setting sleeves on fire suits and she comes in later than everybody else, she’ll come in to some work piled up at her workstation, but she’ll finish it by the end of the day. So it works.”