August is here and the corporate world is buzzing with the sound of excited employees discussing highly anticipated trips to destinations near and far.
The atmosphere lifts as we prepare to take a well earned break, trading the 9 to 5 for long, relaxing sun-drenched days. This is more exciting to the average adult than a hundred childhood birthday parties, better than a sleep in on a Sunday morning, better than getting a parking space right outside the office. This is annual leave!
But every rose has its thorn and vacation time has many.
First, there is the extra hours, handovers and notes and general panic about leaving projects behind while you leave for 5 full working days (or more if you are one of the lucky few).
Second, is your team, you are handing over the extra work to your colleagues. Not only do they have to complete their own tasks, they now have to manage additional projects too and they might just have projects to catch up on following their own leave.
Third and worst of all, is the crushing sense of post-holiday blues when you realize that’s it. It’s over. And not only is it over but Janet in accounts is on leave and now you have no one to share all the amazing details with or wonder at the new relaxed, tan version of you.
And finally, there is the frustration of longer signoff periods as you struggle to get approval from distracted or absent decision makers.
In reverse order, here are the top tips from around the web – and some from me – on banishing the Summer blues and motivating yourself and others during the annual leave extravaganza that is August:
- Offer flexible hours. “It has been proven that by offering flexible scheduling, employees will be more productive when they are in the office,” says vice president of Marketing & Communications, Michael C. Fina, an employee recognition company.
- Encourage a good work environment. “Employees perform better when their environment is nice. The summer is a great time to refresh the office. Plants, flowers, pictures on the wall, to having a comfortable office temperature all go a long way.”
- Start a Summer Sports League. This is a fantastic opportunity foster closer inter-departmental relationships. “Many cities offer community leagues for every sport you can imagine. Create a few company teams, and invite your employees to join in. It’s a great way to socialize outside of the office, get your employees active, and encourage them to bond outside of the office.”
- Let the sunshine in. Let employees take a break from the ice cold air-conditioning and hold meetings outside. A little sun and fresh air can boost morale and productivity, and it is also proven to alleviate stress. Best of all, this quick fix is easy and free.
- Empathize. You are not alone in missing those heady Summer days, empathize with your fellow work mates. It’s normal to feel a little down after a big event – post wedding blues anyone? But remember there is an important difference between empathy and wallowing!
- Set Summer Goals. “Without proper planning, a string of employee vacations can stall team productivity overall,” Filev says. “Leaders should sit down with their teams and review vacation schedules along with goals for the work that needs to be done so that there is plan that is optimized for the summer schedule. Knowing that they have specific, tangible goals to achieve helps employees stay on track and accountable.”
- Empower Individuals. “Very often people need just a little encouragement to believe in themselves and to realize that they have a greater potential within. Always show your confidence in the unique abilities and potential of your team members.”This could be the perfect opportunity to allow someone to stretch their skills and ‘act up’.
- Gamify or create a Summer competition. “Running competitions within the workplace creates a fun and energetic environment. It helps make goals and incentives incredibly transparent. And it encourages people to change their behavior.”
- Say Thank You. Recognize the extra work that your colleagues are putting in. Thank them for the additional hours and effort they have put into keeping everything running smoothly. This could be at a business level e.g. an end of Summer event or on a personal level e.g. a thank you note or token gift. Cake works best with folks at Newsweaver but in the Summertime ice-cream is an accepted alternative.
- Love Your Job. If you already love what you do, then you probably don’t see the need for a list like this one. You’ve returned to work refreshed, full of ideas and bursting to get going!
Picture credit Nick Torontali