Do you remember the antsy, excited, distracted feeling you used to have as a kid during the last few weeks of school before summer vacation? It was hard to stay focused on work when you knew what you had to look forward to: warm weather, family vacations and a more relaxed schedule.
It turns out that as adults, many people still struggle with the same symptoms of summer fever. According to a CareerBuilder survey, conducted from May 19 to June 8, 2001, 26 percent of employers say they see a drop in their employee productivity in the summer months. Almost half (45 percent) think workers in their organization are burned out on their jobs right now.
In overall year-round trends, 30 percent of employers say employees are more productive today than they were before the recession; 12 percent have seen a drop in the personal effectiveness and productivity of their workers since the recession began.
Worker burnout is a very real concern in the workplace: 77 percent of employees report that they are sometimes or always burned out in their jobs, and 43 percent say their stress levels have gone up in the last six months.
Boosting Employee Productivity & Preventing Burnout
Since many employers notice a dip in employee motivation in the summer, how do you prevent this in your own organization? How do you help your employees maintain their own personal effectiveness, while being careful not to encourage overwork or burnout?
1. Make sure employees take their vacation days.
American workers have a bad reputation for being workaholics who never take time off to relax. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that only 57 percent of US employees use up all of the vacation days they are entitled to each year, compared with 89 percent of French employees. It is important for employees to take vacation time to rest, recharge and come back with renewed productivity. If someone you manage has weeks of vacation days stored up that he never uses, encourage him to take a break (and set a good example by taking one yourself).
2. Give recognition and rewards.
Take notice of the hard work and accomplishments of your employees, and give them positive feedback to let them know you appreciate their efforts. Look for small ways to reward your team and celebrate the summer atmosphere, such as a company barbecue on a Friday afternoon to celebrate a successful project.
3. Explore the idea of a flexible schedule.
Some businesses, and even some states, have started adopting a modified summer schedule to save energy and give employees more flexibility. In the summer of 2008, Utah became the first state to mandate a four-day workweek for state employees.
From an NPR article:
Sonia Smith is one of the 18,000 state workers who began a four-day, 10-hour workweek eight months ago. At first, she says, she was shocked and scared about the change. The state accountant is a single mom, and she worried about child care for her 10-year-old son. Now, Smith is a champion of the switch.
“I like having the three-day weekend,” Smith says. “I like being able to have one day set aside to do everything that I need to do, and then the other two days where I can devote to my son.”…
Smith is among the 70 percent of Utah state employees surveyed who now say they prefer the shorter workweek.
37 Signals, a tech blog that covers topics such as design, business and web usability, also instituted four-day workweeks a few years ago to keep up employee productivity and let everyone enjoy the summer weather.
Last summer we experimented with 4-day work weeks. People should enjoy the weather in the summer. We found that just about the same amount of work gets done in four days vs. five days.
So if that’s the case we could either push everyone to work harder during those five days or we could just skip one of those days. We decided to skip one of those days.
So recently we’ve instituted a four-day work week as standard. We take Fridays off. We’re around for emergencies, and we still do customer service/support on Fridays, but other than that work is not required on Fridays.
Three-day weekends mean people come back extra refreshed on Monday. Three-day weekends mean people come back happier on Monday. Three-day weekends mean people actually work harder and more efficiently during the four-day work week.
Do you notice a drop in employee productivity during the summer? How do you keep your employees motivated without burning out?