Share By Annie Epstein
As temperatures climb during the summertime, it’s only natural for employees’ minds to wander to exotic, far-flung locations and vacation days left unspent. Even though summer is not a hectic time for many businesses, managers still face the challenge of keeping employees engaged and ensuring that productivity stays at a high level.
Here are a few simple tweaks that businesses can make to help employees stay focused on work — and not the beach — during the warm months.
1. Two words: iced coffee. A Cornell University study last decade linked uncomfortable office temperatures to an increase in errors. Offering a cool treat like iced coffee after a sweaty commute could return employees to a more comfortable (and productive) state quickly. Buy an iced coffee kit, splurge for a jug of cold brew at the grocery store, or simply put a pitcher of hot coffee in the office fridge.
To go above and beyond, toss some popsicles in the office freezer and encourage employees to enjoy one on their commute home or during lunch.
2. Offer flex hours. Summer Fridays have become fairly common in business, but every employee has different scheduling needs. Allowing for later arrivals or earlier departures (within reason) during the week can have a positive impact on engagement and motivation. For example, if a parent knows it’s okay to leave early to pick up kids from camp, it will free their mind earlier in the day to focus on work.
Allowing for flexible scheduling means employees won’t have to sneak out or call in sick with pretend sniffles. Giving employees an hour or more off per week can make time in the office better spent
3. Hold friendly office competitions. Whether it’s a sales contest or a fitness challenge, employees’ adrenaline will kick into gear at the word “competition.” Offer rewards such as vacation days or tickets to a baseball game and change up the activities from week to week. Instead of a summer slump, your staff will be energized — and who knows, the outside-the-box thinking could also result in innovation for your company.
4. Offer afternoon snacks. Healthy employees are less likely to miss work, and helping incorporate balanced food choices in the office can have positive effects on productivity. Set a small budget to treat your staff to snacks one day a week. It doesn’t have to be fancy— a simple afternoon pick-me-up of pita and hummus or popcorn can boost morale and be a pick-up for the second half of the day.
If you’re pressed for time, try delegating the task to foodie employees who would enjoy the challenge of finding unique foods for their co-workers to try.
One more option: Organize a potluck lunch so employees can get creative and share their own recipes.
5. Enjoy the outdoors. Studies show that time spent in daylight increases accuracy. Creating an outdoor workspace for employees can help shake a summer slump. One idea: Add a picnic table to a shady part of the parking lot — it can be a spot where people can work out in the open with their laptops. If it’s feasible, reserve the office roof for an after work happy hour or ice cream social. Test things out and see what works. You’ll likely find that adding a couple of small perks can go a long way with your employees.
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