Summer is an important time for businesses to develop and implement key employee engagement strategies. Why? Traditionally, summer months mean longer days and warmer weather — tempting reasons for employees to take a few days off here and there, especially when they find their productivity dwindling. This may be manageable when it happens to one or two employees at a time, but if absenteeism (both planned and unplanned) increases, businesses may end up struggling to maintain productivity and reach significant revenue objectives.
Maintaining employee engagement can be a serious challenge. Fortunately, there are several pro-active employee engagement strategies businesses can implement in order to help keep people motivated during the summer:
1. Encourage Taking Vacation Time
Yes, encouraging employees to take a vacation does mean additional absences in the workplace. On the other hand, many of your most productive workers have likely not taken vacation time in quite some time, and could be approaching burnout. What better time than summer to recharge batteries, re-connect with family, and just clear their minds of work-related challenges for a few days? Invariably, employees return to the workplace feeling rested and intent on resuming a productive work schedule.
2. Schedule Fun Events and Company Outings
If summer months are a slower time for your business, consider scheduling employee events that help keep a sense of teamwork alive and well. Company potlucks are a great way for employees to hang out and meet one another's family members. Or you can host an afternoon of bowling, laser tag, a pool party, or amateur volleyball tournament. Friendly competition can reignite teamwork and group participation, essential for virtually any company when business picks up again. Take plenty of photos and display them in the break room (with the employees’ permission), so people can "relive" the events later. Such photos can also be used on the "Careers" page of your company website as visual evidence of your employee-focused culture (again, with permission).
3. Implement a Summertime Schedule
Many businesses implement a “summertime” schedule, with abbreviated hours on Fridays. It's important to stress, of course, that such a policy assumes employees will continue to meet deadlines and expected production levels, so the company’s overall productivity doesn't suffer. Consider relaxing your dress code policy on Fridays as well, permitting shorts, sandals, and other informal apparel. As a result, "staff will likely feel more relaxed ... and productivity and engagement levels have been shown to increase in such scenarios." according to careers site, Profiles.
4. Offer Flex Time
What kind of flexibility is possible with employee schedules during the summer? Look for ways to let people change shifts, leave early, or come in a bit late. People will likely value the additional time they have with their families. Better yet, this may be a good time to explore permanent work-from-home opportunities that might continue year-round.
5. Provide Training
If you've been thinking about providing training seminars or bringing in subject-matter experts to help employees hone their skills, summer could be the ideal time to make this idea a reality. Not only can this get employees more engaged by expanding the range of their knowledge and abilities, it helps to pump some fresh thinking into the workplace at a time when people can really think about what the training can offer them and how they can share these ideas with one another.
6. Demonstrate your Appreciation
During times of increased activity, it's common to focus more on achieving work objectives and neglect displays of appreciation for your employees' hard work. If summer months are slower, it's a good time to send personalized thank-you notes or find other ways to express your gratitude for their earlier contributions. This serves as a welcome reminder that every employee contributes to the success of the business and that you deeply appreciate all they do.
Summer doesn't have to result in a loss of productivity and engagement. Employees may benefit from a little extra attention at this time, and when it helps, your business may see the benefits for many seasons to come.