4 Ways to Beat the Summer Slump

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Summer’s in full swing and it seems like every week holds a holiday or employee vacation. All of that disruption can wreak havoc on your team’s productivity and leave projects lingering. But you don’t have to hit the snooze button until September, says Wayne, Pa.-based leadership consultant Lisa Kohn, principal of Chatsworth Consulting Group.

“When people are excited about working for your company, they’re going to be engaged whether it’s summer or not. And that’s going to help your productivity and the team effort you need to keep things going during the summer months,” she says.

Kohn suggests four key ways to keep the wheels turning when summer’s lazy days call.

1. Have clear vacation policies. Resentment and fatigue can set in if overlapping vacations are planned poorly and employees feel put out. Be sure to have a good request, scheduling and approval process to ensure proper coverage and plan for any additional support each department will need during these vacation-heavy months.

2. Get employees involved in projects they love. If your employees are excited about what they're working on, they're more likely to put in the time, effort, and attention, she says. Even if you can’t switch responsibilities, work with your employees to find out their true strengths and areas of interest, then get them involved with projects that allow them to exercise those attributes. For example, you may have an assistant who loves the creativity of marketing. Consider letting her work on a campaign or sit in on marketing meetings to learn the ropes. You could also be developing a new skill set that will benefit the company.

Related: Want to Be a Better Manager? Get a Dog.

3. Schedule blow-off time. Kohn says that when employees know they have allotted "play time," they're more excited about putting in the work time necessary. Plan a company barbeque or picnic. You might want to shake things up by giving half-days on Fridays in exchange for slightly longer work days on Monday through Friday, which helps employees feel like each summer weekend gets off to an early start, she says. Or alternate Fridays off among various teams. Of course, be sure this doesn’t run afoul of any state laws or employee agreements.

4. Incentivize the behavior you want. As with all throughout the year, it's important to catch employees doing things right, and to reward that behavior, she says. When someone’s working hard on a project or hitting sales goals despite summer’s temptations to slack off, make it a big deal. Recognize the employee publicly and, if appropriate, give him or her a reward. You might even create a summer-only productivity award for employees who are performing exceptionally well. 

Related: 5 Ways to Boost Employees' Memories

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