Ahhh, summer… School is out, the pool is open, and ice cream is on the menu. If only we were still kids and could kick our feet up and while away the summer days poolside. Instead, unless you’re a role that gives you the summers off, chances are, your days are spent just like the rest of the year… in the workplace. Unfortunately, for the workplace, summertime usually means lessened productivity, a spike in scheduling requests, loose dress code interpretations, and extreme weather conditions. So how do you maintain a safe and orderly workplace in the midst of summer madness? Here are a few things to consider:
Offer Flex Time and Remote Work Opportunities Over Summer Months
Bottom line is employees like to take time off during the summer, whether for family vacation while kids are out of school, or to simply get away and enjoy the warm weather. It is important that a company deal with the increase in off-time requests in a consistent manner while protecting productivity levels. Recognize that the “summer slump” is nearly universal (some European countries shut down for the entire months of July and August) and therefore staffing levels may allow for reductions, and as a result, allowing for more employees to be away from work at any given time. Some companies adjust their business hours from Memorial to Labor Day by eliminating working Fridays by working longer hours Monday through Thursday. Or, if workloads allow, you could consider letting employees leave early, especially on Fridays. If workloads remain fairly steady throughout the summer months, consider more flexibility with working remotely. By giving your employees a few extra hours in the summer months, you’re showing that their work/life balance is important to you and this can be seen as a HUGE perk when you’re trying to attract and retain top talent. Understanding that parents want to spend time with their kids while they’re out of school, or that there are sometimes issues with summertime babysitters, or that those without families may just want to take a boys/girls get away is a great way to improve employee morale. And since summer time is often slower, encouraging vacation use means that you’ll have the full workforce at your disposal during busier times.
Loosen the Dress Code
While some attire is NEVER appropriate for the workplace, (think swimsuits and cutoffs) you could consider loosening the dress code in consideration of the extreme heat. Depending on your dress code this could mean dress suits aren’t required every day of the week. For some offices it may mean that jeans are ok, or even shorts and sleeveless shirts, as long as they are tasteful and appropriate. Decide what is within reason to preserve the integrity of your company’s image and then rollout the change with a little added fanfare to earn brownie points for yourself and management.
Weather the Weather Responsibly
If you have a partial or fully outdoor workforce, it is especially vital that you pay attention to heat advisories, sun exposure, and summer storm warnings. You have a responsibility to protect employees from health risks and dangers of extreme weather but this also gives you the opportunity to express how much your company cares about its employees. Consider altering schedules so that they are avoiding the outdoors during the hottest parts of the day. Supply plenty of drinking water and think about providing small samples of sunscreen in the breakroom. Talk to employees or provide them with information about heat-related health problems and reiterate your understanding and compassion in any instances of over-heating or heat related symptoms. It is important that employees feel comfortable asking for extended breaks (within reason) or extra time to recover from the extreme conditions.
Celebrate the Season
Summer is a time for baseball, happy hours, and picnics so what better time to plan a company celebration or outing. Summer is the best time to reward employees with afternoon ice cream parties or off-site events such as team happy hours, or a company-wide outing to the ballpark. These are great team-building activities and a great way to encourage camaraderie and boost employee engagement.
Implement a Summertime Wellness Program
It can be difficult for employees to stay cooped up in the office during summer so this is a great time to implement a wellness program in which you can integrate outdoor summer activities. You can encourage employees to exercise more by organizing company participation in a local competition, such as a 5K, or institute a FitBit challenge. Shake things up by taking staff meetings outdoors or have picnic meetings in the office courtyard. Hold “walking” meetings around the parking lot or the sidewalks near your building. Urban gardens are the latest trend so encourage employees to bring in surplus veggies to share with their colleagues, to encourage clean, healthy eating.
Summer is a time for celebrating the outdoors and letting your employees know that work doesn’t have to be dreadful. Try to implement some fun activities and ALWAYS look out for the best interest of those employees that are working outdoors in the extreme heat.