Who doesn’t love the summer months? The days are warmer, brighter and longer, giving people ample opportunity to jet away to a sunny location or get outside and do something fun with their loved ones. Unfortunately, though, this isn’t the case for everyone. For those that don’t have any holidays booked and are required to work through the summer, it can be a demotivating time, with concentration and productivity levels dropping.
The happiness of your staff is the foundation of any successful business, and the proof of this is in the statistics. According to a study from 2015, happy employees are 20% more productive than those that feel they are unhappy. Other research has also found that happiness can raise accuracy when working by 19%, and sales by a total of 37%. However, with one in four people being affected by mental health issues (such as depression) at some point in their lives, the importance of keeping your workers happy extends beyond the benefits it can bring to your business.
Here are just some of the ways you can keep yourself and your staff motivated in the summer months.
Everyone wants to be recognised for doing a good job and putting in the effort. As a matter of fact, a global 10-year study discovered that 79% of employees left a job due to a lack of appreciation. 65% of North Americans also reported that they weren’t recognized once in the past year.
Sometimes, a simple thank you is all it takes to make workers feel appreciated, and it’s something that is very easy to forget to do when you’re busy running a business. To keep productivity levels at a high, you should go one step further by setting up a recognition box for employees to nominate co-workers. These can then be rewarded with the likes of cash bonuses, vouchers and extra days of annual leave.
Kerry Dover, Co-Founder of The Momentum Architects, says: "Rewards and incentives are great, but best determined through conversations with staff. Often it is the case that rather than grand gestures, simple rewards can be just as powerful. If it's going to be a great weekend, giving the incentive of a Friday afternoon (or full day) off if all of the work is done (it will be) is a great motivator."
Ray Zinn from Tough Things First, adds: "Establishing a regular schedule of awards and incentives enables staff to gain more feedback. Employees will treasure a plaque or award forty long years after they have retired, so acknowledging a job well done is always a powerful motivator."
Hope Mueller, an Author and Executive Speaker, says: "Summer hours are a tried and true mechanism that keeps employees productive. Although counter-intuitive, studies show that the same volume of work is completed in a shorter workweek. Instead of reducing engagement, employees are more productive during these four days in the office. The worker is excited to have a long weekend and will make sure they get their work done so they can enjoy their time off.
Furthermore, studies show that most employees still work on Friday's off. They check their email and deliver on outstanding commitments. Half-day Fridays or Fridays off are a proven way to increase productivity and general employee happiness, this flexibility correlates to another HR policy with proven success."
Gone are the days when you would have to have your whole team working from the office. With more and more businesses moving their documents, programs and basic operations online, offering flexible and remote working is becoming easier than ever. Though they are popular perks with the majority of workers, they are especially useful for parents who need to look after their children while they are off school for the summer holidays. If they work from home, they can avoid paying extra for a babysitter.
Emily Jaksch, Director at HR Gurus, definitely agrees that remote working is something that should be offered to employees. She says: "A 2016 study conducted by Staples Advantage found that 69% of employees indicated that they would not be happy if they did not have telecommuting and flexible time as a perk. So, I am a passionate advocate of workplace flexibility and remote workers. This is a benefit I offer all my employees who are made up of mums, but I also have many Millennials working for me. They are very motivated by workplace flexibility, so this is a must have to keep younger employees happy."
By utilising cloud technology, your workers can access everything they need to work from any location by just being connected to the internet. Choosing a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone system for your business can also aid in remote working as it will enable people to make and receive calls over the internet. Just plug in your phone, and you’re ready to start making calls!
Productivity is everything in business, and during the summer months it becomes even harder for workers to stay motivated. Flexible and remote working will allow your workers to work around their needs and over come the daily challenges such as email over load. Heather Currie, Career Coach at CalmPassionate Coaching says "if you work in an organization, reviewing your communications processes is important for sustainable email management. If this isn't an option, self-imposed rules can be used such as checking emails only 3 times a day and if anything is urgent to call instead. In these timeframes, you can put on your out-of-office to inform your colleagues with this rule clearly described within it to frame expectations. You can also use workflow management tools such as Trello, JIRA, and Asana to keep task-orientated requests and conversations out of email and within a suitable workflow program.
Otherwise, managing your emails by setting up automatic rules for regular email updates to read later works well and creating a manageable email filing system that enables you to read, file and action quickly to keep your inbox clear."
People are affected by the environments they spend their time in, and the workplace is no exception. If they're sitting in a dark and dreary room for 7-8 hours a day (especially in the summer months, how can you expect them to feel happy and motivated to work?
As Tom Smith from Pure House Cleaning explains: "One of the most cost-effective methods for boosting staff morale is improving the workinig environment. Simple things such as letting in more natural light and fresh air into the room, adding plants, and having a clean workspace adds to the quality of the working environment and also has a positive impact on productivity."
Having a comfortable office is one of the greatest mitigating factors when it comes to staff moral, performance and productivity. Integrated Technologies Australia are an automation, lighting and energy specialist. They install and facilitate automating the start-up and shut down procedures for climate control and lighting in offices. They state that this is not only essential for energy management, but also efficiency and staff satisfaction.
Volen Vulkov, CEO of Enhancv, adds: "Frequently, the problem with the summer months is the uneven working conditions in any office, such as lack of air, or temperature levels. Some people will complain the windows are opened, or in fact, closed. The constant air conditioning is a prerequisite for summer flu, but turning it off and half the office will scream to their melting demise. Giving people the chance to work from home at least 1 day per week, especially during summer months, will help promote their health and well-being to an extent that your business will also benefit."
Encouraging your employees to spend more time together outside of the workplace will help them to build friendships and be more comfortable approaching each other if and when they need something. This doesn’t just increase their happiness levels, but will improve their and ability to work together on various tasks and projects when they’re back in the office.
Planning fun team building activities away from the more corporate setting of the workplace will make everyone feel more relaxed, open and willing to converse. Summer’s warmer temperatures and longer days also make it the perfect time to plan outdoors activities both inside and outside of working hours. Some ideas of what your team can do include hikes, sporting matches, go karting, obstacle courses or even a meal and drinks in the sunshine.
Sergei Brovkin at Collectiver Consulting says: "Monetary incentives and perks have only a limited short-term impact – if any. What makes employees productive is the alignment of their personal values with the goals of the team and the purpose of the company. To gauge the alignment and to visualize the individual values for my client, I use a simple questionnaire that is a good team-building tool called Collectiver Q7. It takes a minute to answer the 7 questions – but it opens a team discussion that helps a lot to engage the team. And it is fun too!"
Helping good causes is also something your employees can do together to strengthen their relationships. Helen Andrew from Spare Harvest says: "The way we work today is causing loneliness and now workplaces need to be part of the solution. We help business with a solution that engages their workplace to connect with each other while making a positive social and environmental impact.
"Through our Business Partnership Program, businesses are embedding Spare Harvest into the workplace so their staff can connect with each other and share what they have spare in their kitchens and gardens. We add a touch of ‘personal’ into the workplace; we are the conversation spark for employees to share personal stories, exchanging what they have spare and making a difference. These meaningful connections encourage staff to stay connected and engage with each other, regardless of department or title. It creates intangible goodwill that strengthens the workplace culture, improves overall well-being, and enhances productivity."
Boats Group, a leading internet provider for the recreational boating industry based in Miami, Florida, is one company that is reaping the benefits of helping charitable causes. As their CEO, Sam Fulton, explains: "At Boats Group, empowering your employees to give back to their communities boosts morale and productivity. Since January 2019, our employees have completed 1,254 hours of community service as part of their paid work day!"
Nothing slows down productivity levels like a slow or unreliable internet connection. Though changing or upgrading your current internet service or provider can cause a degree of disruption at any time of the year, doing so in the summer can keep this to a minimum by planning for it to be done when staff are out of the office on a team building day or a number of them are on holiday.
There are a number of high speed internet connectivity options to choose from, including MPLS, Fiber, Ethernet and Broadband. You can easily find the best option for your business by comparing each type with TelcoCompare.
Stewart Marshall, bestselling author of Doing IT for Money - A business leader's guide to improving profit per person, adds: "Business leaders need to remember that most people have pretty good tech at home today. If they come to work and they're given tools that are worse, they're guaranteed to be demoralised. The tools given to the team make an enormous difference to morale, particularly when it comes to software. No one in the team wants to spend their day working with old green and black systems that are comparatively dysfunctional, and the younger the user, the more likely they are to want the latest and greatest tools."