We all love summer, right? It's the season of beach trips, cookouts, and family vacations. Yet if you are a business owner or entrepreneur, you may dread this season.
The dog days of summer have been a challenge for countless businesses. While sales may slightly drop, the biggest challenge leaders face is a summer mindset that negatively impacts their employees psychologically.
As a former CEO with years of experience advising leaders of companies, I have seen the summer mindset affect companies both big and small. Everyone slows down, alters their pace, and loses their drive. Their minds may be on their children who are off from school, or the upcoming vacation they have scheduled. How can a leader keep the momentum going through summer while everyone else is asleep at the switch?
Here are five suggestions for motivating your employees to stay productive and engaged during these hot months.
1. Actively promote group collaboration
Employees motivate each other when they are members of group projects. Create teams and assign them an important project along with a firm deadline -- during the summer. Their work will be able to speak for itself, summer or not. You can even add new incentives, which incorporate the power of both teamwork and competition to keep your company's momentum going.
The subject of the summer mindset once came up with a CEO I was working with, and I asked him how he motivates his employees in the summer months.
"That's when each department head makes the time to reassess their operations. Our schedules are a little less hectic, so they are given the task to come up with a new and more efficient way of improving their processes. This engages all employees in the department and actually gives them the platform to offer their opinions and ideas."
2. Embrace time off
Your employees' vacation actually improves productivity. By allowing and encouraging your workers to take time off, you are boosting morale in multiple ways. You are allowing the members of your team to spend time with their families and enjoy life outside the office, which will considerably reduce burnout. When they return to work, they are energized, refreshed, and have a new sense of attacking their jobs.
If you have any doubt as to whether or not vacation is actually a good thing, all you have to do is look at Europe. In some countries, like France, companies close up shop and employees must take the whole month of August off. To workaholic Americans, it may be hard to grasp this concept. Yet, believe it or not, it works. The workers in these countries enjoy their time off and return with a renewed morale, and their productivity generally increases -- and there is no slow down in July.
3. Change the routine
This is a good time to change things up. Sure, it will keep your employees on their toes, but most importantly, it will help them look at their work with fresh eyes. It could be small things such as moving a weekly meeting to another day of the week. It could also be something more significant such as a new reporting system. However, do not change just for the sake of change. Now is a great time to put new ideas into play and refine your approach so you are all set for the day after Labor Day.
4. Keep the busy season in the forefront of their minds
Most businesses have several months that are their busy season and normally everyone is running full speed. Things go wrong, things break, and truthfully, you are just happy to survive the busy season. The summer is a good time to assess what worked, what did not work and what changes can be made so that this year's busy season goes more smoothly. Get you employees engaged, remind them of what happened and let them help you figure out what changes need to be made. They will be really happy that they contributed proactively to make their busy season much better.
5. Offer some fun and freedom
Utilize the good weather to do more activities outside. To keep your team happy and motivated when many of their friends are taking time off, you need to offer up some additional flexibility. If your business structure allows for flex hours, offer the option (in moderation).
One of the biggest issues leaders deal with is trying to keep their team motivated and inspired through summer. Many leaders ignore this and their businesses lose momentum. This is your opportunity to beat your competition -- by recognizing this, engaging your team and using the summer as a competitive weapon.