If you find yourself feeling less productive and focused at work during the summer months, you are not the only one.
A recent study by Captivate Network, a digital media company for business professionals, finds that workplace productivity takes a dip during the summertime and that some policies designed to address the problem might do more harm than good.
Is Employee Engagement on Vacation?
In a survey of 600 professionals in North America about summertime’s impact on their workplace:
- 20 percent report productivity decreases
- 19 percent say attendance goes down
- 13 percent report project turnaround times increas
- 45 percent say they are more distracted
Many companies implement certain summer hours policies (telecommuting, four 10-hour day work weeks, etc.) to give their employees more flexibility and, in theory, to keep employee engagement on track during a challenging time period. Captivate Networks’ findings on summer hours may be surprising to many:
- Telecommuting (offered by 4 percent of companies): 43 percent of employees report a decrease in workplace productivity, 14 percent report an increase in workplace stress
- Increased hours, Monday to Thursday (offered by 12 percent): 52 percent decrease in productivity, 23 percent increase in stress
- Early closing on Fridays (offered by 4 percent): 80 percent decrease in productivity,16 percent increase in stress
- Early arrival/departure (offered by 10): 51 percent decrease in productivity, 21 percent increase in stress
- Other, unspecified (offered by 6 percent): 67 percent decrease in productivity, 16 percent increase in stress
- No specific policy but flexibility permitted (offered by 23): 52 percent decrease in productivity, 17 percent increase in stress
- Summer hours prohibited (offered by 51 percent): 46 percent decrease in productivity, 16 percent increase in stress
The survey notes: “Only telecommuting has a positive impact with 26 percent of respondents reporting an increase in their productivity. But only 4 percent of companies make this available to their employees.”
Summertime may be a universally difficult time to stay engaged and effective at work, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Follow these tips to keep your employees happy and work productivity up:
1. Encourage people to take some of the vacation days they have been saving. Some offices have a “use it or lose it” limit for paid time off anyway, so make sure employees have the opportunity to take a break and come back rejuvenated.
2. Consider letting employees occasionally telecommute, change workspaces or engage in physical activity during the workday. Mixing up a sleepy routine can help people stay energetic.
3. Keep expectations realistic. If a third of your office will be gone during the month of July, try to avoid scheduling tight deadlines that will be hard to meet. Focus on the deliverables and results you want to see during a certain time period, and communicate your expectations to your employees.
4. Have a little fun and appreciate the good aspects of summertime. Organize an office party or happy hour, institute a dress-down “casual Friday” policy or send your colleagues a “wish you were here” postcard from your beach vacation.
How do you maintain employee engagement during the summer lull?