Admit it – you, too, are guilty of watching the clock or browsing the internet for personal content when you have a scheduled vacation approaching.
One study found that workplace productivity drops 20 percent during the summer months. With summer quickly approaching, Brad Sugars, founder and CEO of ActionCOACH, a global business coaching franchise, offers his advice and best practices for keeping employees engaged throughout the summer (and beyond).
Change your PTO system
Most companies require that employees give two to three weeks advance notice for paid time off. Sugars suggests reducing the time required to apply for paid time off.
"If you allow employees to give three days' notice, they will be less likely to look at the clock and think about their vacation," he says. "Change your PTO system for the summer to allow employees to give notice last minute."
Also as part of changing up your PTO system, Sugars suggests changing any policies that say employees must take several days off at a time to policies that allow employees to take three of four days off at a time. Furthermore, encourage half days.
If an employee wants time off to go to the beach or spend time with family, they may be satisfied with taking more half days off than full days. With half days, employees are still in the office getting work done and are available as needed but also get to do what they want to do outside the office.
Offer summer hours or flex-time opportunities
There are dozens of jobs that can be done anytime from anywhere. Consider offering summer hours or flex-time opportunities to employees in applicable positions. For example, instead of requiring employees to work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., let them come in as early as they would like and leave early. You may find that some employees are extra productive with flex time if summer traffic or distractions from fellow employees are causes for their lack of productivity.
Another alternative is to allow employees to work extra hours on certain days, then leave early on others, such as working an extra hour each day Monday through Thursday, then leaving four hours early on Friday.
Reward employees with productivity incentives
During summertime, bring the fun to work. By offering productivity incentives throughout the summer, such as team breakfasts or prizes, it allows employees to have fun while working.
Sugars has found that when the incentive is something where the whole team wins or improves, teams will pull together. Free food goes a long way. You could also incentivize with PTO. One such incentive might be that if the team hits their goal, they get Friday afternoon off.
He has also learned that with individual incentives, physical prizes work better than money.
"If employees are incentivized with cash, they are just going to use to use the money to pay off a bill or build their savings. Incentives in the form of something that most people are not likely to buy for themselves work wonders. If they get the prize, they will take it, because it’s the only option."
Sugars' ideas include:
- A vacation. A lot of people want to take off work in the summer to go on family vacations. Offer a vacation as an incentive. It does not have to be super expensive – perhaps a weekend away to a popular local resort.
- A gift certificate to a nice restaurant. Again, this is something employees can use with family.
- A training course – something for self-improvement.
Show your employees extra appreciation
You're busy worrying about making your quotas, paying your mortgage and your own family, but in between everything, demonstrate your appreciation to employees.
"Employees don't need any extravagant gestures … they just want to know that their employers see the positive impact they have on their organization," Sugars says. "Showing your employees appreciation can be as simple as sending a text message with a few words about a recent job well done."
Make time to show appreciation
"I have a reminder that goes off every day at 2 p.m. that says, 'Acknowledge two employees today.' I send them a text message or an email showing my appreciation. It costs a lot more money to lose an employee than a customer. Paying attention to what your employees do and giving them their well-deserved acknowledgments is key to retention. After all, employees don't leave jobs, they leave managers."