Okay, let's admit it - at this time of the year employee productivity isn't always at its highest. Distractions abound, people go away and projects naturally get stalled. Some have taken their summer breaks and are still mentally on break.
Not surprisingly, productivity can also go on an extended vacation during the long days of summer and even into fall as people prepare for back-to-school mayhem.
So the question is, how do you keep minds engaged, ‘sleeves rolled up' and hands nimble when people are still in summer vacation mode?
Here are a few ways managers can keep employees motivated, engaged and focused (somewhat) on work.
Keep employees motivated by looking ahead
In terms of goals and objectives, this is the ideal time to take stock of where your employees are at mid-year against where they should be - and then define plans to get them where they need to go (if needed). Take the time to meet one-on-one with your employees, engage them in discussions about their aspirations, and consider goals and objectives for the fall.
When employees have an eye on the future, they'll see what they're working towards and what's expected of them. Make sure goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound), and clarify or make any adjustments if necessary.
Focus on employee development
Even though mid and late summer tends to be the heaviest vacation time, it doesn't mean important projects have to be put on the back burner. Before employees leave for vacation, meet up with them to go over tasks that they're currently working on and ask if they need assistance while they're away.
If the answer is "yes," this could be an ideal time to reassign tasks to a less-experienced member of the team who is looking for development opportunities. Greater responsibility and stretch assignments can boost engagement and employee productivity.
All work and no play... is not a good idea
Keeping employee productivity up is important, but you shouldn't ignore the fact that it's one of the most enjoyable times of the year. Celebrate fleeting summer days and your team's accomplishments with a celebratory lunch, sporting event or outdoor picnic (remember those company picnics that were all the rage in the 50s and 60s?).
Showing your employees that you appreciate them and inviting them to partake in some workplace fun will help keep morale high and performance levels elevated.
Little things can go a long way to motivate
Keep employees motivated and engaged by offering performance-based incentives. It's not necessary for incentives to be financial. In fact, they don't have to cost your organization very much at all. Consider giving an employee an afternoon off in recognition for accomplishing a particularly challenging stretch goal.
Say, "Thanks for a job well done," with a fruit basket, gift card, or even a handwritten note recognizing the employee's strong performance.
Tell your employees to, "Take a vacation!"
Whether they decide to travel the world or watch movies on a staycation, it's important that employees understand that they're expected to take a true vacation every now and then. Employees who don't take vacation (for whatever reasons) can experience burnout, reduced creativity, stress, or stress-related ailments, and reduced productivity.
Last week we wrote a post where we mentioned the paid, paid vacations employees receive at FullContact. The leadership team at FullContact offers this incentive because they recognized the long term benefits of having employees fully decompress when taking vacation time.
Employees who do take time off will come back refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to hit the ground running - and that's great news for employee productivity levels.
Your turn: Do you have any ideas for boosting employee productivity at this time of year? We'd like to hear from you.
For more on employee productivity and engagement, read Who's on first? Apply the 5 Ws to employee engagement.