Summer is an exciting time of year. The cold, gray winter has finally been transformed into a season bursting with warmth and color. The beaches are open, and pools across the country are waiting to be used.
While all of that makes the summertime enjoyable, it can also distract employees and bring their motivation to a near-grinding halt.
According to a study conducted by Toggl, a time tracker and employee timesheet software company, mid-May is when its tool's daily usage drops 22 percent from the yearly average. Conversely, the highest overall yearly productivity is in September, with the most active users and sign-ups. Toggl believes this is due to employees' "guilt syndrome" caused by the summer's drop in productivity.
But you shouldn't get discouraged if your team is slacking off. There are effective ways to keep employees on task, even during the lazy days of summer.
Building the right culture
Your company culture can directly affect an employee's attitude during all the seasons of the year.
"Culture can inspire proactive problem solving or inspire passive problem spotting, with no action to address issues," said S. Chris Edmonds, founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group, and an author. "Culture can inspire cooperative interaction and teamwork to boost production, quality and service, or frustrate employees so they just go through the motions, daily."
To this end, Jojo Hedaya, founder and CEO at Unroll.me, has built a culture of ownership, where each team member takes responsibility for his or her projects and tasks.
"Enabling ownership increases the dedication [employees] have to the work, no matter the time of the year," Hedaya said. "I encourage everyone to take the vacation time they need. Since each member feels like they own something, they're not going to let anything slip by."
Brad Lande, CEO of Live in the Grey, a workplace consultant company, advised creating an authentic workplace — a place where people feel connected, impactful and fulfilled because they can bring their whole selves to work every day.
"Start by investing time to get to know your people," Lande said. "Find out what makes them come alive. You’ll realize they're all unique. Some people will value more time with their families, while others will value continuing education or mentorship. Actively listen to your people."
The role of leadership
Being an effective leader year-round will also encourage employees to do their best work, whether the weather is delightfully warm or bitterly cold. You can motivate employees by combining inspiration, knowledge and rewards, said Jan Bruce, CEO and co-founder of meQuilibrium, a workforce resilience training company.
"For leaders, it's not enough to tell employees they're doing a good job," Bruce said. "It's more important to lead by example, which is inspiring; to share knowledge, so others might use it; and to reward people who do well, to let them know that they’re valued. For an employee, feeling valued is one of the most important things."
The second employees question their purpose, there will likely be a loss of motivation and excitement to continue producing, and good work will also drop off, Bruce said.
"I am constantly trying to cultivate a happy, fun workplace," Hedaya added. "If my people are unhappy coming into the office every day, their work will reflect that. The happier the employee, the better the work."