Nevermind the fact that for many startups, summer is a slower season overall -- it's also a time when many of your employees will have weekend weddings, pool parties and travel plans on their minds. (Chances are, so will you.)
Here are 11 fun ways to keep your employees focused, without cutting into needed down time during the warmer months.
1. Practice Makes Perfect
My team is my team because they are motivated individuals with their own set of skills and assets, but sometimes we all get senioritis. I try to keep them motivated by switching gears in the summer and encouraging them to feed their brain with books that apply to their role within the company, or online courses that will enhance their work ethic when we get back into the grind come fall.
2. Replace Yourself With a Temporary PM
I hire a project manager or promote them internally for just the summer months. I know I'd rather be at the pool, grilling something or mixing up a pitcher, and I know my team wants to as well. I pay for work done, not time spent. The project manager isn't a babysitter: He or she expedites, cross-checks and gets things moving so we can be pool bound!
3. No More Friday or Monday Deadlines
We recognize that summer months mean lots of weddings, camping trips and parties. As such, we don't schedule meetings or deadlines on Friday afternoons or Monday early mornings. It keeps people focused during the week, while allowing them to enjoy time with friends and family without guilt or distraction.
The employees get excited, and it pumps them up. They get to enjoy the summer and not feel like they're stuck inside the whole time. Barbecues are also fun, easy, inexpensive, and can happen frequently without interrupting productivity.
5. Extend Weekday Hours, Take Half-Day Fridays
Everyone loves summer. It's no surprise that it's a time when people want to go outside, relax, and have fun. In order to accomplish this while still keeping our team productive, we extend our hours Monday-Thursday and then let everyone out of the office at 1 p.m. every Friday. Works like a charm!
6. Attend Concerts and Festivals
I tend to take the troops out to events in order to obtain a fresh perspective on the consumer marketplace. As marketers, it's important to see what is trending and how certain demographics are responding to particular environments. At a large concert or festival, you often are exposed to many types of people interested in many different types of things.
7. Do Weekend Brunch
My team loves brunch, and in New York brunch is a weekend tradition that is still going strong. If I'm going to ask my team to work on a Saturday -- which we sometimes do -- why not do it over great eggs, toast and mimosas? That way we can be productive in a relaxed environment, and the job isn't taking away from some of our favorite weekend pastimes.
8. Focus on Deadlines, Not Hours Worked
It can be hard to expect people to work a conventional schedule straight through the summer. That's why I emphasize getting a project completed by a certain date but stay flexible about when people have to put in their hours. If someone can complete a task from their laptop while lying on a beach somewhere, it's all the same to me as long as they turn in quality work.
9. Get Outside and Sweat
Get outside for some physical team activity or organize a sports game. It's beautiful out.
10. Take a Mid-Year Team Retreat
Summer isn't a particularly busy time for most of our clients, so we use the season to host a mid-year retreat. We all get away to a fun city and spend time time together focused on strategy and idea generation. Fewer client deadlines also makes summer a great time to work on certain projects, which can be done on more flexible schedules.
11. Offer Work-From-Home Fridays
This summer, we're giving our employees a choice on how to use their "Summer Fridays." Last year, we only let employees leave work early. This year, employees can either leave the office early OR work from home the whole day on Friday. Giving employees the option to work from home a little this summer makes them happier, more loyal, and arguably more productive.