When warm weather starts to become the norm, employers can end up seeing their workers be more preoccupied with their personal lives than their professional obligations. In some workplaces, this can cause a decrease in employees' motivation to complete their workloads, resulting in decreased productivity and performance. For HR departments and company leaders, this can be a significant employee management issue. However, summer doesn't have to – and shouldn't – kill worker engagement, according to the Corporate Executive Board Company (CEB). This issue can be prevented early on in the summer months if human resources take the right approach.
Here are seven strategies HR professionals and managers should embrace to engage workers during the summer:
1. Support Workers' Vacation Plans
It may sound counterproductive, but HR departments should encourage employees to use their paid time off during the warm months. According to Entrepreneur magazine, summer is often the time for people to take time away from their workplaces so they can enjoy the weather, and employers that discourage workers to go on vacations or use their paid time off can end up with burnt out workers and employees who are in the office but aren't productive. Presenteeism can be high in the summer if employers don't understand the benefits of encouraging workers to take vacations. Employees who spend some time away from the workplace often come back less stressed and with more energy, resulting in higher productivity, performance and, yes, engagement.
2. Start Training Seminars
Employers need to showcase that there are benefits to being engaged with the company, and offering training and education to workers can motivate them to come into the office and do their best. An article in Fast Company suggests employers provide professional development opportunities to ignite workers' passions for their jobs and to break up monotonous days. Training and talent development sessions can also turn into team-building opportunities, which can encourage collaboration and communication between workers. Feeling like part of a team can help workers be more engaged in their jobs.
3. Keep Communication Channels Open
Communication shouldn't suffer during summer months. According to Fast Company, if workers feel as if they don't know what is happening in their workplaces or within the company as a whole, they can mistrust their employers and become disengaged. Being consistent with communications is important when HR professionals are trying to generate higher engagement within the workplace.
4. Create a Sense of Community
According to The New York Times, there are numerous reasons people dislike their jobs and are disengaged with their current work, one of which is not feeling like they are part of a positive workplace. Fostering a sense of community can help workers feel they are part of a fulfilling workplace, and so they will want to be more present and active on the job.
5. Set Limits on Meeting Times
Most people don't want to be stuck in a meeting on Friday afternoon – they want to be finishing up their work and start leaving for the weekend. Making it a rule that meetings can't go past 4 p.m. can give workers the ability to complete their tasks without having to rush before they depart for home.
6. Make Fridays Fun
Many workplaces already have casual Fridays, but HR professionals should consider making Fridays special in the office. Fridays can be one of the least productive and disengaged days of the week for workers even during colder months, but even more so during the summer when many employees have their eyes set on the weekend. HR professionals should consider providing workers with bagels or donuts every Friday morning to encourage employees to come into the office, and even consider establishing a "be out by 5 p.m." rule for employees to have a greater work-life balance, which they often appreciate.
7. Recognize Workers for Their Hard Work
It's important for employees to feel their dedication and hard work is appreciated by their employers. This is especially true during the summer, when many workers take time off and their colleagues have to pick up the slack. Make it clear that the business appreciates their work through reward programs or in company-wide emails praising employees. An extra "thank you" can help workers feel more appreciated in the office, resulting in higher engagement.