Make the ‘Summer Slump’ Less of a Productivity Suck

Summer slump: A period during the summer in which a person is less productive that can negatively impact business operations. Often a consequence of increased frequency of good weather, vacations (personal, colleagues and external business partners), and children being out of school.

As temperatures rise, it’s no surprise that those in the office are inside thinking of enjoying the summer breeze and beach getaways. With employees and business partners on an ever-rotating vacation schedule, work productivity takes a hit. So much so, that a 2012 study by Captivate Office Pulse found that productivity drops by 20% during the summer and work turnaround time increases by 13%.

While some loss in productivity is inevitable, it should not be a death sentence to business. Here are our tips to keep your staff motivated during the summer:

Summer flex

At the top of employees’ summer perks wish list are flexible schedules and “Summer Fridays,” according to a survey by Accountemps. Flexible schedules can vary tremendously, from work-from-home policies to shortened work hours, which can be pose staffing challenges for businesses of any size.

An easy way to combat this issue is to extend the use of shortened days beyond just Fridays. For example, let’s say Company A provides each of its 20 employees four Summer Fridays between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Inevitably, Company A will encounter weekly staffing woes and productivity slumps on Fridays, especially when factoring in staff vacations.

The answer isn’t necessarily taking away the benefit entirely. One way to keep the long weekend going is to allow for Summer Fridays to be used as Late-arrival Mondays. For a working parent who has children in day camp, s/he may appreciate using the gifted time over a period of days rather than in a lump sum to ensure childcare coverage. If everyone still wants to use their time for early dismissal on Fridays only, cap the number of shortened days that can be used on Fridays. This is a win-win for all: It keeps the workplace staffed and morale up. One study even found happy employees were 12% more productive!

Embrace the outdoors

Like many hard-working teams, it’s likely some employees spend the lunch hour glued to their seats. At staff meetings, encourage team members to spend their lunch breaks outside. A little “nudge” from their manager may be all they need to step outside and recharge in the fresh air. And, if you are the supervisor, lead by example.

On a corporate level, bring office outings to take place outdoors, such as sponsoring a charity 5K and encouraging employees to form the team and train together. Break up the week with post-work barbeques, happy hours, or ice cream socials!

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Shaking up the day-to-day routine by enjoying the sunshine fosters an open and collaborative environment that encourages inter-team networking and team building. You may find productivity and creativity soars.

Do some planning

Take the load off of Q4 by using the summer months to plan ahead for the remainder of the year, often the busiest season for businesses. While it can be hard to stay motivated with great weather and when it seems everyone is out of office, managers should clearly outline project goals to keep everyone concentrated on deliverables, aware of key dates and the business objectives that need to be met.

Summer is also the perfect time for employees to pursue professional development opportunities. Work with your team members to determine what personal improvements they’d like to make, and connect them with the resources to reach those goals. In-person classes and events offer a great change of scenery for learning. For those who can’t be out of the office, there are also a number of helpful online courses and webinars.

A version of this article was originally published on wforce.org.

Dr. Arthur Langer is director of the Center for Technology Management at Columbia University and chairman and founder of Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS), a nonprofit with a mission of developing the skills of untapped talent from underserved and veteran communities through partnerships with organizations dedicated to diversifying their workforce. Since its inception in 2005, WOS has served 5,300+ individuals through partnerships with more than 65 corporations in 60+ locations worldwide. For more information, please visit www.wforce.org.ᐧ

 

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