As the summer heat sets in, businesses often experience a slowdown in productivity and engagement. With vacations, long weekends, and a general sense of relaxation in the air, it’s no surprise that employees may find it challenging to stay motivated during this time. However, as a leader, it’s essential to find creative ways to keep your team energized and engaged, even during the summer slump.
Below, Forbes Human Resources Council members discuss ideas that can help you maintain productivity levels, boost morale and ensure your team stays motivated throughout the seasonal slowdown. From organizing team building or volunteer opportunities to implementing a four-day work week, these strategies will encourage rest and relaxation while making sure the business remains strong heading into Q3.
1. Host Brainstorming Sessions
Many engagement strategies focus on what the company can provide to keep employees from disengaging. A unique way to refocus that mindset is to have sessions where employees are encouraged to share their strategic visions and ideas for the business during slower periods. This breeds ingenuity, teamwork and the fostering of an environment where people see opportunity and not slow business growth. – Alexander Otero, Konabos
2. Set Clear Goals
One strategy I’ve discovered to keep people engaged during the summer slowdown is to have clear goals and a mission. It’s also crucial to recognize the season and encourage the team to take time to enjoy themselves. When there’s a clear direction and purpose, daily tasks become more meaningful, and everyone knows what they’re working towards and their individual value to the team. – Bill Fanning, Greetr, Inc.
3. Embrace The Slow Down
Summer is a time to embrace work-life flexibility as part of employee wellness. Accept that there will be variability in team schedules with summer vacations and school out of session. Consider having a team planning meeting to identify top goals to meet over the summer and focus on outcomes over hours. Don’t forget to lead by example and take some time off yourself! – Neepa Patel, WellRight
4. Encourage Passion Projects
This is the perfect time to engage staff in their motivators and their passion projects. You should also have targeted conversations regarding their career development. When things are busy, these conversations are easily pushed aside. Show your teams that their happiness and long-term growth are top of mind and find ways to give them the exposure they wouldn’t necessarily get when work is moving fast. – Halai Shukran, Pluribus Digital
5. Implement How-To Workshops
Try thinking outside of the box and invite employees to share what they are interested in. Are they in the arts? Invite them to lead a painting workshop, a quick how-to for improv or a coding exercise. Bridging the gap between employees’ workplace and real-world interests can raise company camaraderie, boost morale and encourage participation. – Dirk Doebler, Parento
6. Create Positive Motivation
We create opportunities for ourselves when we identify business gaps and proactively address them. Summer provides time to identify and reflect on such gaps, and to take action. This can be done by creating positive motivation regarding vacation. “As you return from holiday more refreshed and focused, share with us an opportunity you see to make our business more efficient. The winner gets an additional day of vacation.” – Allison Allen, Orchard Global
7. Push Team Members Toward Growth
During a business slowdown, encourage team members to reflect on their individual career goals and on the kinds of training or development opportunities that might help them reach those goals faster. Summer can be a good season to add a certification, take an immersive course or learn the ins and outs of a tech application. Team members should be encouraged to capitalize on this time for growth. – Heide Abelli, SageX
8. Promote Time For Self-Care
Summers provide an excellent opportunity for upskilling, reskilling, cross-training, creativity and self-care. These practices keep your team engaged, enhance their skills, boost their confidence and increase their productivity and morale. – Marcus Bryant, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley
9. Offer Professional Development Opportunities
Offer professional development opportunities such as training, workshops or seminars during summer, which can improve employee skills and knowledge, boost job performance and demonstrate the company’s commitment to investing in their growth and development. – Smarthveer Sidana, HireQuotient
10. Introduce Performance-Based Awards
To motivate employees during the summer slowdown, employers can introduce performance-based rewards to recognize strong performance and help employees feel valued for their contributions. While it’s a seemingly simple tactic, implementing performance-based rewards motivates employees and shows the company is dedicated to retaining, recognizing and rewarding its workers. – Tanya Jansen, beqom
11. Press Pause To Combat Burnout
Those with a flexible, work-in-any-way approach don’t have a problem with engaged employees—no matter the season. We all have varying versions of what recharging is or what life and work balance looks like. Leaders need to embrace that to avoid burnout. Focus on clear, expected outcomes; release the “on-call” approach and you’ll have employees who are happy, meeting KPIs and free to revel in a summer slowdown. – Bjorn Reynolds, Safeguard Global
12. Meet With Team Members About Goals
In summer downtime, give people time and tools to visualize their own future. How do they see their career track evolving? What new competencies do they seek? Suggest training strategies to suit their ambition. If work slows, shifting emphasis for a while from company to individual goals supports morale and team retention, which in turn helps organizational performance. – Graham Glass, CYPHER Learning
13. Give Employees Summer Fridays
Summer hours, such as giving time back on pre-determined days (e.g. closing early on Fridays), are a gift of time employers can give employees. This allows employees to enjoy a long weekend and can be meaningful and impactful in creating goodwill and building engagement. Of course, this is not a viable option for all types of businesses, so rotating schedules may be a good alternative. – Jennifer Rozon, McLean & Company
14. Support Time-Off Requests
If the nature of the industry or business is slow in the summer, this is a great time to encourage the employees to take time off, to re-energize, relax, refresh and rejuvenate towards life, work and their friends and families. This will create a cycle of motivation and engagement that will re-mediate throughout the team and encourage discussions, team building and goal attainments! – Omar Alhadi, Adobe Care and Wellness
15. Take Meetings Outside
Summer should be viewed as a season of innovation and exploration. I recommend teams take more non-traditional approaches to work to maximize engagement. One initiative I enjoy during the summer is working outdoors. From traditional meetings occurring during a morning hike or midday meetings happening at a local park. It keeps staff engaged and excited during this season. – Imani Carroll, Just Food For Dogs
16. Implement A Summer Challenge
One idea to maintain motivation during summer slowdowns is implementing a “Summer Innovation Challenge,” encouraging employees to pitch new ideas or process improvements. This would stimulate creativity and team engagement. It can also provide valuable insights that benefit the company in the long run. – Siddharth Sharma, JP Morgan Chase & Co.
17. Host Writing Retreats
Engaging in projects during downtime is not only productive but very gratifying for employees. Hosting retreats that allow for creative thinking, ways to strengthen service and relationships and connecting with the cultural identity of the company helps keep team members excited about the evolution, increases a sense of belonging and leaves them excited to implement them when the busy season resumes. – Tiersa Smith-Hall, Impactful Imprints, Training & Consulting
18. Strategize For Q3 And Q4
When business slows down it’s a great opportunity to focus on professional development. Is there a certification you’ve been wanting to pursue? Is there new technology you’re interested in (e.g., ChatGPT)? Summer is also the perfect time to assess the first two quarters and strategize for the remaining ones. When we’re busy, it’s easy to go on autopilot. But pausing allows for reflection and creativity. – Hazel Kassu, Sudduth Search
19. Validate The Summer Slow Down Feeling
Go slow to go fast. Take these four steps: 1. Acknowledge the summer slow down directly, 2. Validate the team’s feelings and how you want them to enjoy the summer, 3. Review the goals of the business, and get a re-commitment on those goals, 4. Then, set a summer 4-day work week, review coverage for all vacations and support the summer mindset by joining in. Hit your goals, and have a good summer! – Jess Elmquist, Phenom
20. Organize Volunteer Opportunities
The warm weather makes summer a great time to organize team-building events, volunteer opportunities or company offsites and retreats. All of these can be great for engagement and bring the team closer together to enhance communication, which allows your team to deliver a great customer experience. – William Stonehouse, Crawford Thomas Recruiting
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Original article here.