A headshot of a woman with long hair smiling at the camera against a blue background. She is Christina Gialleli.
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How to beat the summer work slump

18 Aug 2023

Summer can be a struggle for productivity and motivation, but Epignosis’s Christina Gialleli has some advice that will set companies up every year.

The summer months is a time when employees are constantly in and out of the office, taking days off to enjoy some time away from their computer screen. During the summer months, productivity decreases by 20pc. This makes sense as studies demonstrate that hot weather affects cognition and brain function, causing people to perform more slowly and inaccurately.

At the same time, businesses are still up and running as they seek to maximise results. The key is to recognise this pattern during the summer and develop strategies with creative solutions to successfully fight a potential productivity dip.

So, how can organisations make the summer months more fruitful for their workforce? Let’s examine what employees want, how to keep motivation levels high, and the benefits for both employees and employers.

With so much change happening in the world of work and digital transformation, employees want to stay invested and energised in the work they do. Here are a few ways employers can help employees keep their morale up.

Provide meaningful training

75pc of employees find training beneficial for their engagement at work and job satisfaction.

Employers can keep their employees engaged and motivated by offering professional development and reskilling/upskilling opportunities. During a business slowdown, team members should be encouraged to capitalise on this time for growth to improve their skills and knowledge, whether that be adding a certification, taking a course or learning how to use a specific tool that can give them a competitive advantage in their field or role.

Offering employees ways to gain a competitive advantage in their industry and build skills that will help them further their career and development is a great way to keep people motivated.

Employees can also use this time to move away from strictly job-related topics. When their work schedules were busy, they’d likely overlook topics like mindfulness, conflict resolution, etc, and stick to their projects and deadlines. But now they have the chance to explore such topics that will help them in other aspects of their careers.

Employers should avoid overloading employees with challenging topics and instead, limit training to topics like:

  • Work-life balance
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Effective communication
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Feedback
  • Conflict resolution
  • Stress management
  • AI skills

To make training even more impactful, consider microlearning. Offering bite-sized chunks of knowledge in various formats (video, mobile cards, infographics, etc.), will help boost knowledge retention and engagement. Also, investing in mobile training solutions allows employees to take up training anytime and anywhere, even while commuting to and from work.

Another idea is to use discussion boards and forums to encourage peer discussion and knowledge sharing. This is an opportunity to keep employees engaged with their colleagues until they take their annual leave. And when other team members return from their vacation, they can visit these discussions and pick up where they left off.

Support employees

Everyone needs personal support from time to time. Another way to keep employees motivated is by scheduling one-to-one meetings to help them set specific goals. This way, they can have a clear direction of what they need to do in order to complete their tasks or get to the next level.

At the same time, organisations must promote self-care with mental health awareness programmes and initiatives or training focused on wellbeing. As a result, burnout and loss of work interest can be prevented.

Also, performance-based awards are a fantastic way to recognise strong performance and help people feel valued for their contributions.

Offer opportunities to decompress

Relax the dress code. Summer means having to deal with the heat. A strict business dress code might be uncomfortable for people who have to commute to work in such high temperatures. Even if it sounds minor, relaxing the dress code for summer (when appropriate) is particularly impactful for boosting employee morale.

Allow flexible schedules. Depending on the industry, organisations usually aren’t as busy during summer months. So, there’s nothing wrong with allowing employees to have some flexibility. The truth is that flexibility at work boosts productivity and efficiency and enhances employee retention. Allow more work-from-home opportunities, a four-day workweek, or leave-early Fridays to show that work-life balance is much appreciated, especially during summer.

Plan outings. A great way of recognising employee efforts and hard work is to plan fun events outside office hours. It could be a summer company party, a barbeque, or a simple outing. Employees will get the chance to spend time with colleagues outside of a work setting, bond, relax, and feel truly valued.

The benefits for both employees and employers

Organisations that understand the importance of job satisfaction will increase employee morale during the summer months and all year round. The benefits for employees and employers make a difference to the company’s bottom line.

Productivity increases

Motivated employees are more likely to perform their best while enjoying their work more. Thus, they produce more with less effort and discomfort and significantly contribute to the company’s goals. With productivity levels high among employees, there’s no need to hire more people, train, and retain them from the beginning.

Turnover decreases

Satisfied, happy, and motivated employees most likely won’t quit their jobs. They’re happy with their job duties, the work environment, the culture and the policies, the working hours and models and all the other perks they are being offered during these summer months. Employees feel valued, remain loyal and are willing to stay with the company, resulting in turnover rates dropping significantly.

Talent attraction

When organisations actively value and recognise their employees’ efforts in a meaningful way, they attract talent more effectively.

Employees want to feel they belong in an organisation, meaning they are being heard, valued, recognised, and feel safe overall. By implementing summer initiatives that boost employee morale, companies can attract employees who are willing to give their absolute best no matter the season and the circumstances.

Better customer satisfaction

Happy employees equal happy customers. During summer, obtaining new customers is tough as they’re also in a slowdown and most buying decisions are put on hold. But if employees are eager and motivated, they will manage to bring in more customers than anticipated.

This happens because happy employees will treat customers better than unmotivated staff during this season. Satisfied employees will make customers feel valued and respected by caring about them instead of taking them for granted.

Creativity blooms

How can people be creative when they struggle with burnout during the summer?

With morale boosters, organisations can ease employees’ stress during the summer months, make them feel safe concerning job security, and allow them to take creative risks in their everyday work.

Employees are valued

Towards the end of a high-performing season, employees are wiped and ready for some time off.

Until their annual summer leave or scheduled PTO, it’s important that organisations invest in initiatives that will keep them in high spirits. In return, employees will feel valued for their hard work and contributions from the previous months.

Stress levels drop by encouraging a healthy work-life balance during summer. Employees are also more likely to trust their employers and recognise the organisation is putting them first and wants to create a great work experience for them. As a result, they will be more engaged, satisfied, and loyal.

Employees are a company’s biggest asset. Their productivity and motivation levels are essential for driving employee satisfaction and great business results. By implementing these practices to beat the summer slump, organisations will benefit this summer and each season of the year as they show employees their happiness, values, and growth and development are a top priority.

By Christina Gialleli

Christina Gialleli is the director of people operations at e-learning technology company, Epignosis.

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