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Navigating the summertime slump

‘I’m gonna raise a fuss, I’m gonna raise a holler about a-workin’ all summer just to try to earn a dollar

Sometimes I wonder what I’m a-gonna do, but there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues’ 


Or is there? JourneyHR’s Aliya Vigor-Robertson explains how you can keep employees motivated through the summer months.

The summer is finally upon us and for many employees that means the chance to switch on the ‘out of office’ and jet off in search of sun.

Everyone needs time to relax, unwind and recharge their batteries and in today’s frenetic world, where employees are increasingly expected to be available 24/7, taking time out from work has never been so important. Numerous studies have shown that taking holiday can boost both employee morale and wellbeing and according to a recent survey, nearly all Brits (97.9%) deemed a good work-life balance important. Not surprisingly, 95% said they would be more likely to work for a company which supported a healthy work-life balance.

Employers should actively encourage their staff to take advantage of their holiday allowance. Not only will it reduce the levels of stress and burnout, but employees will likely return more motivated and productive.

stijn-swinnen-q8fhn3qsq2w-unsplash-copyHowever, not having all hands on deck can be a daunting prospect for business leaders, particularly among smaller companies with fewer resources, and juggling multiple holiday requests can turn into a scheduling headache. The key to making sure everything continues to run smoothly over the summer period is preparation.

First and foremost, think about how to effectively manage various employees taking holiday at the same time. It’s important to ensure there are enough people in the office to manage the workload, which may mean staggering holidays or offering certain weeks on a first-come, first-served basis. Avoid having just one or two people covering, which could place them under extra stress.

For employees getting ready to head off on holiday, providing a clear and detailed handover is crucial. This isn’t something that should be left to the last minute; planning in advance will ensure that those covering know exactly what’s expected of them.

None of us are superhuman and it’s impossible for one person to do their own job and that of someone else, so managers need to be realistic in their expectations of what can actually be achieved. Prioritising is the name of the game when it comes to holiday cover; making sure the most important tasks take precedence and putting those tasks into wider context so the person covering understands the time and effort needed.  

If there are enough people in the office, dividing the workload between different employees, delegating to their strengths, can be a great way to share the load and take pressure off.

Before bidding the office farewell, employees should also inform all their clients that they will be away so no one is left hanging when an ‘out of office’ pings back to their email. It also means they may refrain from sending non-urgent work during that period.

Keeping staff motivated

mark-cruz-ov0u44cygdm-unsplash-copyWhile some workers will be lounging by the poolside with a cocktail in hand, others will be charged with manning the fort and picking up where they’ve left off. Dealing with an increased workload, particularly when it’s warm and sunny outside, can be a depressing prospect, so it’s important to give extra thought to how to keep remaining staff motivated during those all-important summer months.  

Regular check-ins to ensure staff are coping is crucial, and positive feedback for a job well done can be a great way of making employees feel valued and appreciated for going that extra mile.

Another way to boost staff morale and avoid a “summer slump” is injecting a bit of fun into work, whether that’s through outdoor meetings, team events, after-work drinks or finish-early Fridays. Spontaneous ice-cream runs are also a winner.  

Introducing a more flexible work schedule can be a great incentive which helps employees strike that all-important work/life balance during the summer months. Initiatives such as starting and finishing work at different times to avoid the hot commute or spend more time with family, or the option to work from home shows employees the company cares about their life outside of the office.

It’s also worth remembering that for many, August is a ‘quieter period’ – a time when many clients are on holiday themselves and a chance for agencies to catch up on those tasks that seem to get pushed to the bottom of the list the rest of the year. It’s also the perfect time to work on people management skills, looking at different methods and workshops offering employees the opportunity to try their hand at new projects or take on new responsibilities.

Rather than fear the summer exodus, embrace the chance to create a culture that puts employee wellbeing at the heart and gives staff something to look forward to, whether in or out of the office.  

Employee engagement survey for DBA members

Employee engagement goes beyond simple job satisfaction. It combines commitment to the organisation and its values with a willingness to go the extra mile for colleagues. Show your employees their voices are valued and heard by taking part in our Employee Engagement Survey, open 6-20 September 2019. Find out more about this invaluable, new member-only business tool. 

About: Aliya Vigor-Robertson co-founder of JourneyHR

Aliya started her HR career in 1996 and co-founded JourneyHR in 2010. Aliya works with Founders and business leaders in the creative industry and advises them on creating sustainable and creative cultures where their people can thrive and their businesses get great results.

Lyric credit: 

‘Summertime blues’ by Eddie Cochran


Image credits:

Sai Kiran Anagani | Unsplash

Marc Cruz | Unsplash

Stijn Swinnen | Unsplash


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