Summer is here, and an inevitable malaise starts to descend over the office, affecting employee productivity. Employees are distracted by thoughts of sun, beach, parks, pool, picnics, and all the excitement and distractions that the season brings.
With their heads elsewhere, this spells problems for small businesses. As summer heats up, productivity dips.
Here are some scary facts from a study by Captivate Network about the negative impact that summertime has on the workplace:
- Workplace productivity drops 20%
- Attendance dips 19%
- Project times increase by 13%
- 45% of workers are more distracted
So how do you combat the summer office blues and boost workplace productivity? Consider the following:
Summer Hours Can Help with Employee Productivity (But Try It Out First)
It’s always puzzled me why companies insist that their employees stay at their desks until 5 PM on a Friday when most have already shifted into weekend mode, are distracted, and have one foot out the door. This is especially true in the summer when weekend trips or time with the family is planned.
Yet very few companies offer summer Fridays or “flex Fridays”, even though a number of studies employees who benefited from summer hours are happier and more productive. It’s also a nice perk to attract talent.
If you’re not sure about the employee productivity gains (because summer hours don’t work for every business), consider a trial run for a month and assess the gains or losses for yourself. Were tasks put off until a later date or did more get completed ahead or on-schedule? Did important emails get ignored or were they resolved before flex Friday? Are employees working longer hours on Thursdays or Mondays to make up for a shorter Friday?
Not all roles can enjoy leaving work early on Fridays for risk of disrupting operations. If you want to appear fair and offer it to everyone, look for opportunities to cross-train employees so that they can cover for their colleagues for those few hours—but be mindful that you don’t stress them out even more.
Do Something New and Fresh
The pace of work life can slow down in the summer which makes it a great time to start exciting or different projects. This gives staff a chance to embrace something new, challenge themselves, and help your business benefit from the summer lull.
Add Vitamin D to the Mix
Take advantage of the season and encourage your employees to get outside. Adding sunshine to your employee’s lives can reduce stress and give them a better sense of wellbeing.
AARP reports that’s a 2010 study from the U.K.’s University of Essex found that just five minutes of exercising outside boosts mood and self-esteem. The study builds on previous research showing that outdoor walks battle depression better than indoor walking.
Whether it’s a team lunch in the park, a brainstorming session in a café veranda, or a fun team trip to a vineyard, golf course, or fair—get your staff out there!
Do Some Good
Use the summertime philanthropically. Consider place- or skill-based volunteering opportunities that give the team a chance to dig in and make a difference to people and the environment.
The Result? A Whole New Team Dynamic>/h2>
With all this time outside and starting new projects, an additional effect is that you’ll get to know your employees a lot better. This not only boosts morale but can have a really positive effect on team dynamics. As an employer, this gives you an opportunity to put a finger on the pulse of employee mood, gain feedback, tap previously unknown skills, and create a sense of team.