When summer arrives, minds start to wander and we feel an aching need to go outside. For millions of small business owners, the summer months bring the challenge of getting employees to stay focused on work while also giving them time to enjoy the warmer weather. If this problem sounds familiar, here are seven ways to cure the summertime blues in your small business:
1. Schedule an Offsite Meeting
As you hit the halfway point in your fiscal year, take time to review the progress made towards your goals and reflect on the year-to-date wins and losses. Think of yourself as a football or basketball coach who re-calibrates their strategy at halftime: Small business owners should take a breather and reassess their annual plans during the summer months (assuming that you don’t run a seasonal summer business). The time you take out of the office will also recharge team members and set you on the path to making the second half of the year a success. Here’s a tip—go somewhere fun and include free time for your employees to connect with each other (and you) in a social setting.
2. Casual Fridays
If your professional setting requires business attire, consider flexibility with the dress code during the summer. Casual Fridays have been around for as long as I can remember. Think about creative ways to dress up on Fridays and encourage employee participation. For example, Hawaii Friday (provide flip flops and leis to employees who wear their Hawaiian shirts to work). Another idea could be baseball Friday—employees wear shirts or jerseys of their favorite players, and you provide hotdogs, pretzels, popcorn, etc. for a team lunch.
3. Flexible Schedules
Allowing employees some flexibility with their schedules will give them the chance to take advantage of summer weather and not resent the fact that they are stuck at the desk all week. With flexible shifts and early “exits” on Friday afternoons, employees will have the opportunity to recharge with long weekends at the beach, in the mountains, or wherever their happy place might be.
4. Hang Out with the Team
Beyond the business review off-site meeting mentioned above, small business owners should come up with fun outings for their teams. Some of my favorite trips with employees include museums, amusement parks, movie theaters, mini golf, and karaoke.
5. Keep on Truckin’
Arrange for a food truck to visit your office during the week and pick up the tab for your employees. If your budget is tight and you are in an area with other small business owners, consider pooling your resources to hire an ice cream truck to swing by the group of offices one afternoon.
6. Change in Latitudes
If you have screen savers on your computers in the office, think about switching the imagery to favorite summertime spots. Images of the beach, a baseball stadium, or even just a backyard pool can help change the collective attitude in your office. If you have music at work, switch up your playlists on Fridays to include tunes of the Beach Boys, Jimmy Buffet, or even reggae steel drums. Brighten and lighten up!
7. Get Creative and Social
When my kids were younger, whenever we went on trips, they brought along “Flat Stanley“. It was a school literacy program, and they loved taking pictures of Flat Stanley in the funniest and craziest places. It became a game between my kids and their friends. Think of running a similar program like Flat Stanley in your company. Create a social media contest for your employees by supplying them with t-shirts that include the company’s logo. Encourage them to wear the shirts on summer vacations and post the photos to social media platforms. Award a prize for the most original or exotic location that the company logo travels to over the summer. It’s an excellent way to harvest a good corporate culture.
These are just a few ideas for your company’s summer programs. Whatever you ultimately decide, don’t let the months of June – August pass by without letting some steam off and reconnecting with your employees. They will thank you with increased productivity and better morale for the second half of the year.