For some employers, it is considered something of a myth, but statistics show that the ‘Summer Slump’ is a very real seasonal phenomenon affecting employee motivation everywhere hot weather strikes in summer. But there are ways to counter it and keep your team motivated.
It’s not a completely unreasonable reality, of course. With clear blue skies, high temperatures, the imminence of Bank Holiday weekends and booked holidays abroad, it can be difficult for staff to keep their minds solely on their jobs.
For office managers, however, the task of keeping projects moving and on target becomes that bit more difficult. A 2015 survey carried out by CareerBuilder showed that the working experience can be adversely affected by high office temperatures. Of the employees who participated, 71% admitted they were less productive when the office was too warm and 53% when the office was too cold. Also, 20% confirmed they have argued with colleagues over the office temperature.
Meanwhile, after their own study, the US Department of Commerce concluded that an office that is too warm is likely to leave employees fatigued, irritable and struggling to concentrate. As a result, productivity and creativity fall, and employee absenteeism jumps.
So, how can an office manager defeat this seasonal onset of sluggishness, fend off the ‘Summer Slump’ and keep a team motivated? Well, there are several strategies that can be implemented, but here are just 5.
5 Ways To Counter The Summer Slump
- Take It Outside
- Offer Flexi-Time
- Offer Rewards
- Summer Dress Code
- Encourage Employee Time Off
If your team is yearning for some time in the sun when they should be focusing on an important team meeting, why not take the meeting outdoors? This can simply mean meeting on the cafeteria terrace, or in the grounds of your office building, or even a walking meeting in the park across the street. Employees tend to react well to the change of scenery and fresh air, with employee motivation increasing and general attitude growing more positive – and positivity is something you know benefits every meeting.
When you have personnel with kids, the fine summer weather can seriously drain employee motivation. With schools closed, kids want to get out and play, and offers a perfect opportunity for parents to grab some family time. Being more flexible with working hours allows this to happen. The payback comes in the form of greater cooperation and enthusiasm at being permitted to have more time at home – albeit perhaps involving working from home. In a CV Library survey of 1,000 UK professionals, the top perk participants wanted was flexible working hours (47.2%), with seasonal bonuses (39.1%) and extra holidays (37.3%) some distance behind. The form of this flexi-time can vary, but can also be easily tracked through employee leave software, like our own AnnualLeave.com.
You already know that a reward works as a good incentive, but rules need to be laid down clearly in advance. Firstly, only those who exceed their targets should be rewarded; rewarding employees for doing what they are paid to do anyway can prove counter-productive.
Secondly, the form the reward takes should be attractive but proportional. So, it could range from a paid lunch at a local café to an extra day’s paid holiday, or even a night’s stay for the family at a local hotel.
And lastly, the chance of earning the reward should be open to as many as possible. Inclusivity counters negativity, and isn’t that the principal purpose behind the move? An open competition across departments, for example, means employee motivation can be improved everywhere.
If your summers get quite hot then formal wear can cause some real discomfort. So it would be more productive to ease up on the usual dress code to allow staff wear something more suitable. Smart casual is usually a happy medium, since the threat of Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops might be too real for comfort. There is evidence to suggest that Casual Friday offers genuine benefits, so extending it to the rest of the week – at least for the hot summer months – makes practical sense in beating the summer slump.
If the threat of a summer slump is clear, and employee motivation looks set to be hit hard, then the best way to avoid the impact is to encourage staff to take time off. Many people like to cache their holidays, waiting until outside the season to take advantage of low-cost tickets and hotel deals. But these people also suffer worst of all in the heat. Encouraging them to take time off offers real benefits to the business as much as the particular employee. Research estimates that upon returning to work, productivity increases by as much as 80% and reaction time improves by about 40%.