Make Summer at Work Fun
What’s not to love about summertime? The sun is shining, the sky is blue, everything’s in full bloom, people are out and about and there’s generally an infectious positive energy. For workplaces, however, the summer months can create interesting challenges that aren’t often seen at other times of the year. Below is an overview of some of the more common concerns and some tips for managing them.
Even in the most formal workplaces, attire tends to shift during the summer months. No one wants to walk out into 20+ degree weather (knowing it will soar later) in a suit and/or stockings. While your workplace may allow for seasonal flexibility, employees do tend to stretch the guidelines of “business or professionally casual” in the summer, as we see more open-toed shoes, “dressy” flip-flops, shorts and capris, shorter skirts, sleeveless shirts, etc. Overall, it’s important to be clear and consistent with your parameters, keeping in mind that employers tend to provide more lenience to women over men in this area (right or wrong), given their respective fashions. Be prepared to address that, should it arise.
If you’re tending to see a major shift across the board from your expected dress code, take the time to reiterate your expectations, keeping in mind that the more prescriptive you get, the more challenging the issue may become. If only one or two employees dress in a way that’s inconsistent with your expectations, this should be handled on a one-to-one basis by their managers.
Motivation & Productivity
Let’s face it; if you jump out for a coffee or grab lunch and you see people enjoying themselves in the sunshine or on a patio, do YOU want to go back to work? Chances are, neither do your employees. Whether it’s because they’ve been out later the night before (given the long summer nights), they have to deal with kids out of school, or they simply want to be somewhere else, performance may lag. If your workplace tends to be slower in summer, encourage professional development, creative pursuits (e.g. company newsletters/blogs), or tackling long overdue projects.
Also, encourage use of vacation, and where possible, offer flexibility such as shortened days, Fridays off, “patio passes”, etc. For employees who must stick around, keep them motivated by infusing a little fun and a change of pace. Surprise your teams with ice-cream, Frappuccino, or iced cold-brew coffee on a hot afternoon, host/encourage walking meetings or throw a team-building event in the park.
Vacations & Time Off
Of course, providing flexibility and time off during the summer can present its own challenges, in terms of having enough people to get the work done. This can be a good time to consider internships, summer co-ops, temporary staff, as well as training/mentoring more junior staff to fill in (thereby lifting them up and building capacity overall). Wherever possible, plan vacation and associated coverage well in advance to ensure both the needs of your employees and the business are being met.
It is often said that summer is the worst time to recruit, due to candidates being away or otherwise busy with kids and summertime fun. While that may be the case, it can be a great time to connect with those you may not otherwise reach, especially in the case of passive candidates. According to a 2016 report conducted by LinkedIn, 54% of candidates aren’t actively looking. Posting and sourcing on LinkedIn is great for this, as positions may still land in their inbox, or they’re more open to connections from potential employers. Provided you can give a compelling reason why they should consider your business/role, the summer months can be useful in reaching candidates who may be on vacation, find it easier to take a day off, or have more flexibility to attend an interview. Additionally, it can often be easier to make a move to a new role in the summer. If you make a connection with a potentially interested candidate, with summertime in mind, consider a more informal interview approach such as a patio or park meeting.
The Weather in the Office – Temperature Wars
“We can put people on the moon, but we can’t get the air conditioning right in our office.” How many times have you heard that? And how often have you had to wear more clothes in the office than outside during the summer… or take more off than seems appropriate? Workspace temperature can have a significant impact on productivity; if employees aren’t comfortable, they’re less able to focus. Although WorkSafe BC doesn’t specify required temperatures, they do provide recommendations based on the season. In the summer, an acceptable range is 23 – 26 degrees, and in the winter 20 – 23.5. Regardless of this, there’s no question that we all thermo-regulate differently and you’ll never make everyone happy. So, go for the happy medium and be willing to provide options for those who suffer on either side (e.g. branded sweaters, fans, space heaters, etc.).
While summer may be a slower time for many workplaces, it need not be laissez faire in terms of productivity, motivation and general challenge. With a bit of intentional planning and organizational spirit, it can provide the perfect blend of re-energization both for your employees and your workplace.