Do we even remember snow? For the last few weeks, we have been enjoying some of the hottest temperatures on record. But soaring temperatures is only one problem that HR Departments have to sweat on in the summer, and that can leave employers frustrated.
In a country where heat waves are an exception rather than a rule, these particular problems can be more taxing than usual. From stifling office environments to not-so-suitable summer clothes, HR needs to guide co-workers through at a time when most consider anywhere but at work is the place to be!
Here are 4 of the top issues that can get employers a little hot under the collar, and what you can do to handle them.
4 Issues That Get Employers Hot Under The Collar
- Soaring Office Temperatures
Admittedly, this is obvious, but your office may be ill-equipped to cope when employees are expected to work in high temperatures. Fail to deal with the problem and things may get sticky – and it’s nothing to do with dripping ice-cream!
In Ireland, the HSA’s Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Regulations (2007) states that employers must ensure “the temperature in rooms containing workstations is appropriate for human beings”, relative to the “working methods” and “physical demands placed on the employees” and highlights a minimum temperature of 17.5°C.
In the UK, the minimum is 16°C for sedentary workers; 13°C for active workers. No maximum temperature is stated, but most agree temperatures should not go above 24°C.
What do you do? Well, you might think about opening a window, but perhaps a portable air conditioner is necessary to keep everyone comfortably cool.
- Summer Dress
What better way to stay cool during a hot summer than to wear an appropriately light and airy summer outfit. In fact, while you’ll already know about the concept of ‘dressing happy’, enclothed cognition studies have revealed that clothing has symbolic meaning, so we do stay more cognitively alert when in our ‘work clothes’ than if we dressed down.
What can you do? Although a 3-piece suit is going to be hellish in the heat, there is room for compromise. But ‘appropriate’ is the key word here. Professional dress codes don’t include shorts, t-shirts, low-cut tank tops or flip-flops, so what’s fine for the beach just isn’t going to work. Keep in mind employee roles (especially safety equipment) but generally, smart casual covers it all.
- Motivation, Motivation, Motivation
It’s a constant concern, regardless of the weather outside, but motivation can be quickly undermined by the summer. It’s not only the flow of vacation departures, or even clients going away, it’s also the heat, lengthy lunches in the park, and the rush to leave to catch the evening rays. Focus and productivity can drop greatly.
What do you do? Allocate specific responsibilities to individual employees; or, if you’ve already done that, remind them of their priorities. You don’t need to be unkind, but distractions can easily be put to bed through simple reminders over how important their role is in the company achieving its aims. And the golden word is ‘together’.
- Some Sneaky Time Off
Is there anything more maddening than finding out a colleague is on holiday AGAIN in the middle of the best weather of the year! Well, as frustrating as it might be, as long as these co-workers went through the proper channels, they’re entitled to take time off.
Of course, the problem is when they didn’t go about things correctly. Their request may have been declined based on the dates or not authorized at all, but, in either case, the matter will have to be investigated. What is crucial is that HR takes an impartial view, gathers the facts so that the reasons for the absence can be fully understood, and only then makes a judgment. If the reason is not genuine, disciplinary measures in line with stated policy need to kick in.