As August has so far proved, the British summertime is an unpredictable beast, and so when the sun does shine the last place you want to be is inside.
As August has so far proved, the British summertime is an unpredictable beast, and so when the sun does shine the last place you want to be is inside. Some workers are taking things a step further than simply wishing they were anywhere but the office – research run by job-finding website Monster.com found that nearly 20% of workers admitted to calling in sick during the summer just to enjoy the weather.
Such absences cost businesses money. A recent survey conducted by the Centre of Economic and Business Research revealed that absenteeism costs the economy £18bn in lost productivity every year. But broaching the subject with employees can be tricky as it’s often inappropriate to question the validity of an otherwise spotless employee’s occasional day off. So how can bosses prepare for the eventuality of summer sick days?
The best way to counter summer office blues and therefore deter absenteeism is to engage more effectively with your workforce by introducing a few small changes over the period:
Get out of the office There’s scant less inspiring than a hot and stuffy workplace in August. Change up the workspace by encouraging employees to get out and about. If you have outside internet connection and access to some seating, this can make a great setting for a catch-up meeting. Otherwise, mix things up by scheduling a breakfast brainstorm in nearby park or outdoor café. The change of scenery and promise of a cold drink can help spark new ideas and help motivation levels.
Encourage staff to take advantage of under-used incentives Actively promote usage of holiday allowance during the summer, rather than scrambling to use up holidays before the end of the year. Many employees forget they’re already getting a pretty good deal in the summer months- ensure they know they can escape for some vitamin D!
You can also temporarily switch existing incentives for summer-friendly ones. Swap a financial bonus for an extra day off or two. Alternatively, get creative and incentivise hitting KPIs with fun summer outings – there’s tonnes of exciting pop-up events and festivals to attend over the latter half of August and into September, so do look into what your local city has in store.
Spice up your wellness program Perhaps you already provide fresh fruit in the office. If so, increase the supply in your break rooms. The summer months are perfect for fresh produce and are a great time of the year to motivate your workforce to become healthier. You can also top up your benefits program by offering discounts for healthy local cafes or offering outdoor fitness sessions, such as lunchtime yoga. The emotional impacts of an unhealthy lifestyle can be damaging to morale, whereas healthier workers are more motivated to stay at work.
Try a summer casual dress code Us brits can be bad at letting go of stuffy suits and ties. This isn’t the case elsewhere – in Japan 70% higher stress levels were measured when workers in Japan dressed formally compared to casually, whereas 75% of workers in South Korea consider flip flops appropriate summer wear. Introducing a summer dress code in high temperatures helps your workforce feel more comfortable and keep cool, which should make a day in the office feel like less of a chore.
Work or leisure trips can make a great marketing opportunity Get your employees to make use of networking or learning opportunities created by globetrotting. Facilitate employees attending networking events in different cities or countries when possible – you’ll get some great blog material and potentially some business development opportunities out of it. A pinch of ‘brand ambassador’ duties can really help motivate a colleague and makes them feel proud of the organisation they represent.
Without demanding too much of their downtime, suggest colleagues contribute snaps of their holiday or festival to your social media feed which can be linked into your industry output. This also shows you are taking an interest in your employees’ personal lives, which demonstrates you value their work-life balance.
Simply introduce different work hours It’s an oldie but a goodie- if you’re work hours are 9-5, try changing them to 8-4 so that your workforce can make more of their day after work. Go further by introducing a shorter workday on a Friday, if business allows. 87% of employees who have had summer hours introduced said it contributed to a much better health work-life balance. Employers have traditionally feared that shorter workdays are detrimental to productivity, but this is proven to actually improve workplace efficiency, so don’t be afraid to take the leap!