Beat the Heat! 3 Ways to Combat the Summer Slowdown
There’s a good chance all those distractions (coupled with the record heat) will curb your organization’s productivity during the summer season. A Captivate Network study of 600 professional North American workers in 14 major metro areas showed that workplace productivity drops by a staggering 20% during the summer months and employees are 45% more distracted.*
Keeping employees on task doesn’t mean locking them in a windowless room for eight hours a day. It requires a thoughtful, dedicated effort to motivate employees to perform at their best amidst the distractions. Here are 3 ways to prevent productivity from fizzling out at your office.
1. Keep year-end goals top of mind for your team
When employees and colleagues are on vacation, it can be tempting to scale back your team’s workload and set the cruise control for August. But it’s important that you keep year-end objectives top of mind to avoid an unnecessary ramp up in September. “One-on-one meetings with your employees are critical throughout the year, and they should not stop during the summer months,” says Christina Callahan, HR Director at IMPACT Group. “Make year-end goals a regular part of the discussions so your team members are actively working toward them each month.”
Create a master list of projects to stay organized. Set realistic deadlines, keeping in mind when team members will be out of the office. And reward your team when they hit milestones.
“Plan social events like potluck lunches and happy hours to show your appreciation to your team. Or have an ice cream truck stop by the office. There are a lot of simple ways to boost morale around the office, and in turn impact productivity.”
2. Encourage employees to take time off
Yeah, we know – this tip sounds counterintuitive. How can you boost productivity if your employees are away? Biologically we think better and work best when we are well rested. After just 24 hours of fatigue, our bodies begin sending 6% less glucose to the brain. So the more burnt out your employees get, the less critical thinking they are able to do, ultimately affecting your overall team productivity.
In today’s oh-so connected world, vacations aren’t working quite the same way they once did. Yes, employees may be physically beach-bound, but they are still mentally in the loop, pushing projects forward, taking calls and emails, and remaining “plugged in.” Combat this. Push them to genuinely unplug and “vacate.” It will be better for your employees, their family and – believe it or not – for the organization overall.
“Time off does wonders for employees,” says Christina. “It positively impacts energy levels, perspective, and creativity. And it’s vital to prevent burnout.”
Encourage your team to take the much needed break they deserve and work with them to ensure the work doesn’t pile up in their absence, creating a stress-free return. Ask your team to play fair and work together to ensure not everyone is out at once. “If summer is a busy time for your organization, it might be necessary to have employees request time off well in advance. Set parameters for when PTO requests need to be made and how many team members can be off at one time.”
3. Find the temperature sweet spot
Are your employees bringing cardigans, fleeces or parkas to the office, despite the rising temperatures outside? If so, your indoor environment might be freezing out productivity. Or is your office sweating constant A/C crashes? Productivity falls then too.
Research from the Helsinki University of Technology and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that the optimal office temperature is between 70 and 72 degrees (Fahrenheit). For every degree over 77 degrees, productivity drops by 2%, and when it cools off below 68 degrees, error rates increase dramatically.**
But finding that “just right” zone for everyone isn’t always easy. “Everyone is used to different temperatures in their homes, and everyone has different tolerance levels. My rule of thumb is to keep it a little cooler and encourage employees to dress in layers.”
Help employees get their work done even when things are heating up outside. Keep your office comfortable and tolerable to avoid melt downs, freeze outs, and unproductive bickering among co-workers.
For most Americans, summer is a sacred thing. It’s a few precious months each year when our thoughts turn to lakeside getaways, baseball games, and lazy afternoons by the pool. Before attendance at your office decreases by an expected 19%*, make the office a sunnier place to work. Inspiring engagement and achievement throughout the summer requires proactive creativity, discipline, and motivation that should not be saved for the other nine months of the year.
*Avoid ‘summer slack-off’ syndrome, HRSpecialist.com
**Effect of Temperature on Task Performance in Office Environment, Ernest Orlando Lawrence, Berkeley National Laboratory