Daylight before and after work, no getting stuck behind school buses on the commute, and perhaps some trips or vacation time sprinkled in – there are some perks to summer work life. However the rise in temperatures often brings about a dip in productivity; surveys amongst office workers report a 25% decrease in productivity and nearly half of employees admitted to being more distracted in the summer. Taking breaks, work-life balance, and non-micromanaging bosses are essential to productivity throughout the year, so what can managers do to ensure employees get to enjoy the summer without work falling behind?
- Plan and prepare: Keep a master calendar with everyone’s planned vacation time marked down, and keep it in circulation. This helps you optimize the meeting schedules and set realistic deadlines for each task according to who is around. It also prevents an important task from being dropped because an uninformed teammate is waiting for an action to be completed by someone who is out of town. With a practice of sharing and marking leave time and transparency across all teams, bosses won’t look like a micromanager by asking about peoples’ schedules or checking in on who is in the office each day. Depending on the size of your company, workflow, and dynamics, you might also consider synchronizing vacations. In some cases, two weeks in a row at 50% staff keeps things running better than three months of staggered absenteeism. Other companies, may be just the opposite, and do better with 80% of people in all summer. While managers shouldn’t set vacation dates for employees, in smaller companies, these are some considerations to talk about with your team.
- Designate back-ups: Have each employee designate people to fill in for different tasks while they are away and make sure all teammates are aware of who is doing what. Retain a master calendar that is visible to everyone so teammates know who to reach out to. This also allows helps workers let go of responsibility and completely unwind on vacation, which itself lends many benefits to the workplace.
- Embrace opportunities and give recognition: Employees who do not get a break and are burdened with their vacationing coworkers’ responsibilities without acknowledgement can grow burnt-out or resentful, which can lead to more productivity loss. The summer is an opportunity for employees to stretch themselves and try new things when the flow may be slower/less is at stake, and when they are covering for someone else. It is important to monitor whether an employee is taking on two jobs under one salary; that work needs to be proportioned and recognized. Employees who do take on extra work could be rewarded with an extra Friday off or early release. Slower and quieter months also affords managers more time to get to know employees one-on-one and work on their goals, as well as personal growth and reflection. Evaluations and goal-setting should not all be left to January.
- Allow flexibility: Work from home options and flexible hours reap benefits all year. In the summer, flexibility helps people maintain their work progress outside of rigid hours rather than just taking the time off. For example, if some coworkers decide to enjoy the weather and meeting/deadline schedules allow for a picnic lunch break, they can go enjoy that re-energizing break (with a potential added benefit of strengthening work relationships and harnessing creative ideas). If this lunch takes them over an hour and a half, they know they can finish up in the evening or the next morning rather than cutting into PTO. Childcare is also often different in the summer. Allowing some flexibility allows parents to better coordinate pick up and drop off instead of coming to work distracted or missing hours or deadlines by trying to stick to a schedule that doesn’t fit.
Everyone should have the chance to take a break personally this summer without their work breaking down. Like so many other things in the workplace, communication, planning, recognition, and flexibility will go a long way in making summer a refreshing and energizing season and avoid the summer slump.