It’s June, about noon. There’s a perfect blue sky, and you sigh…
Who wouldn’t want to be outside?
No one likes being stuck indoors on a summer day, but it’s something all office-bound organizations deal with. Gallup says across the world, we’re facing an employee engagement “crisis,” and it would only make sense to suggest this problem worsens when thoughts turn to baseball games and barbecues.
As Inc.com puts it, “With summer comes vacation and people wishing they were on vacation.”
But there’s still plenty to do—no business can simply shutter for three months. So, what’s the answer?
“An office cookout!”
That’s a… nice idea. Let’s look at some others.
Before booking those buses to Camp Corporate Retreat, it’s good to think about what “employee engagement” really means. In fact, the correlation between a happy employee and an engaged one might be flimsier than you think…
Engagement is not determined by an abstract feeling. Measuring workers’ contentment or happiness levels, as well as catering to their wants, often fails to achieve the underlying goal of employee engagement: improved business outcomes.
An engaged employee is not always one who had fun at the last ice cream social; he or she, despite the allure of spending Friday afternoon on the links, buckles down and delivers even when the sun and sand beckon because they identify with the “greater good” that’s at stake.
More from Gallup:
Many employees who are not engaged want a reason to be inspired. They are the “show me” group that needs an extra push to perform at their best.
While positive feelings, such as happiness, are usually byproducts of engagement, they shouldn’t be confused with the primary outcomes.
Rather, the primary emphasis should be on elements that engage workers and drive results, such as clarity of expectations, the opportunity to do what they do best, development and opinions counting.
All of this sounds practical, but how to put it into practice? Here are suggestions to turn summertime into fun time people can get behind:
Flex hours, but clarify expectations. Flexible working hours have been linked to greater employee productivity, leading Entrepreneur.com to declare them “a must” for a variety of organizations.
For those who crave a weekend at the cottage, putting in a couple of extra hours from Monday through Thursday in exchange for a short day on Friday, or taking Fridays off completely, seems like a fair trade-off. Given that employee productivity during the summer takes a dip anyways, this seems like a good trade-off for business, too.
A Captivate Network survey showed workers were up to 45% more distracted during the summer. Offering flexible hours may help counteract that.
This, of course, comes with some considerations for communicating expectations and responsibilities. Entrepreneur offers a comprehensive list to help you formalize your flex hours program.
Let them pick the place. The idea that you must be at the office to make a difference is so 1957. Encourage your associates to sabotage their summer routines by working from home—or the park—or the coffee shop—or wherever inspiration is. The destination doesn’t matter, it’s the freedom to decide that’s deeply appreciated.
Given broadband coverage, brilliant devices and cloud computing, we’re all mobile offices already. Try cutting the cubicle tether one day a week (two is awesome) and start counting the extra smiles you suddenly see.
Provided you rotate days so that a sizeable team is always holding things down at the office, it can be easy enough to afford everyone a little working time at the place of their choosing.
Don’t be vague about vacations. At AKHIA we’re big believers that communication is part and parcel to workplace culture, and at no time is this more critical than when vacations begin whisking our teammates away.
Ensure that everyone knows exactly when time off is coming, and how you’ll compensate for that person’s contributions. No one wants to be the one to catch those extra responsibilities (“Do me a favor while I’m gone?”) just as their coworker steps out the door for 10 days.
There are plenty of vacation calendar templates available for Excel, so using everyone’s favorite Microsoft product to your advantage is easy.
Okay—have a cookout. Because who doesn’t love grilling?! Just the chance to chow down with your colleagues without the worry of work can be a morale booster. Adult beverages also help. A lot.
But if you’re really looking to create a more enjoyable and engaging experience, this alone isn’t going to cut the mustard (sorry).
Employee events should be part of well-rounded efforts to foster a positive workplace culture—something that’s become more and more important to recruit top talent in a range of industries.
This year, try taking control of summer by giving it to your associates. Flexible hours and locations, without added surprises, can be much more enjoyable than trust falls.
If you’re interested in learning more about creating a productive and sustainable company culture, make sure to check out our webinar, “How to build a winning culture for less than 1,000 calories.”
Bill Delaney is a Content Architect at AKHIA.