When you're in school, summer is a time for relaxation, vacation and freedom from responsibilities. However, in the working world, there's no such thing as "summer break." Sure, you may plan a trip to somewhere exotic or hit the beach for a long weekend, but you no longer have the entire summer to wake up late without looming deadlines hanging over your head.
While this is reality, it doesn't mean that everyone will adjust accordingly. It's only natural to grow distracted from work, engulfed by the idea of palm trees and turquoise waters. However, these daydreams come at a price, also known as the "summertime slump."
A survey by OfficeTeam found that 34 percent of HR managers feel that workers are less productive during the summer.
"No one likes to be cooped up in the office when it's sunny and warm outside," said Brandi Britton, district president of OfficeTeam. "It's easy to get distracted at work during the summer when weekend or vacation plans are top of mind."
But there are ways to keep morale and productivity up through the long summer months. Here are some tips to keep your employees motivated.
1. Be flexible
According to the OfficeTeam survey, employees are most interested in flexible schedules (39 percent) and early-days on Fridays (30 percent).
"Flexible schedules and summer Fridays can help employees attend to outside priorities without sacrificing work productivity. Plus, they're easy and inexpensive for employers to implement," Britton told Business News Daily.
Don't be too rigid with your schedules and show your workers you care about their life outside the office.
"There's really no downside to summer perks like flexible schedules and summer Fridays," Britton said. "These benefits are vital in today's business environment, as heavy workloads and increased stress levels can make employees more susceptible to burnout. They're also a key differentiator when professionals consider which organizations they'd like to join and stay at."
2. Embrace the summer
Britton advises that employers should dedicate their time to keep their staff happy and engaged by incorporating exciting events or time away from projects.
"Activities like a company picnic, ice cream break or group sports outing give employees the chance to take a break and hang out with coworkers outside the office," she said.
Speaking of breaks, vacations should not be discouraged by employers. In fact, according to Britton, "Managers should remind workers to use their vacation time. Stepping away from the office is one of the best ways to truly relax and recharge."
Additionally, your dress code should be more casual when it's hot outside. No one wants to show up sweating under their dress pants and blazer. Employers can even experiment with themed days to wear hats or Hawaiian shirts.
3. Build the right culture
Your company culture can directly affect an employee's attitude during all the seasons of the year. It doesn't matter if it's the dead of the winter or the summer's heatwave; work atmosphere is everything.
"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. "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 their 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."
Additional reporting by Shannon Gausepohl. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this story.