During the winter months, when the weather outside is cold, gray and gloomy, employees typically welcome the warm glow of a well-lit and heated office environment. Your workforce is anxious to get into the office, grab some warm coffee and get to work. They are less likely to leave the warmth of the building for lunch or to take time off from work in order to enjoy outside activities.
As the seasons begin to change and the weather warms, focus begins to shift a little more toward the “life” side of the work-life balance equation. Employees will tend to arrive at work a little later on a beautiful morning, take longer lunch hours and may leave earlier than usual to get home and get a few things done before the daylight ends.
As an employer, should you do anything about this phenomenon? Is there anything you can do? Absolutely. You can acknowledge this important balance for employees and demonstrate your awareness of the seasonal focus shift by offering some additional benefits for the summer season. Such benefits will cost you nothing at all.
Start by making a list of possible benefits you could offer during the summer months, making sure you take into account any negative impact to productivity. Every business is different. There will always be things you would like to offer, but simply cannot due to the needs of the business. Share your list of potential benefits with your workforce to see what your employees are most interested in before making your decision. Here are a few to start thinking about:
Summer / Flexible Work Hours –
Many organizations are shifting their measurement of productivity away from counting the number of hours an employee works, and looking instead to answer the question “Is the work getting done?” Companies that have adopted this mentality with regards to employee work ethic find it easier to implement a more flexible work schedule. Such schedules allow employees to stray from the normal 9-5, and work instead an 8-4 or 10-6 schedule. Some organizations will shift to a 35-hour workweek during the summer months, allowing employees to pick a day of the week to leave at lunch. Some offer 4, 10-hour days allowing some employees to be off on Friday and some on Monday for a longer weekend.
Casual Dress –
In many of the high-end tech companies, casual dress every day is the norm. However, the majority of large corporations still adhere to a specific, non-casual dress code during normal business hours. During the summer months, some organizations will implement “casual Friday”, allowing employees to arrive at work in jeans or even shorts, so long as their attire is in good taste and appropriate.
Team Building –
Providing a planned activity for an entire team or department is one way to get everyone outside and still benefit the group as a whole. Morale before the event is high in anticipation. Morale after the event is high having participated. Going to a “fun park”, bowling, or even a catered BBQ picnic on the grounds can be used to show employees that you are aware of how difficult it is to stay focused when it is nicer outside than inside while demonstrating appreciation for their work and contribution to the organization.
Employee Garden –
If you have the space for it at your facility, you would be surprised at how many employees enjoy working in an actual garden. There are many fruits, vegetables and herbs that can be grown during the summer months. The opportunity for some of your employees to take a few minutes out of their day and tend to a garden can be a huge benefit. Start small and it will grow to be larger each year as more employees get involved.
Employees desire separating their personal and professional life. When the employer demonstrates their appreciation for the same, employees feel more appreciated. They are happier, more engaged, more productive and typically more committed to staying with their employer for a longer period of time.
CAI Advice & Resolution team member Renee Watkins is a seasoned HR professional with a diverse background in Human Resource. Renee provides CAI members with practical advice in a wide-range of human resource functions including conflict resolution, compliance and regulatory issues, and employee relations.