Business leaders need to offer more support and motivate employees during summer months

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Jo Sellick columnSummer can be a turbulent time for businesses, and for many, it is challenging to keep employees motivated and productive.

Increased annual leave, commitments at home and nicer weather often means that more people are off work, putting teams under a huge amount of additional pressure, which if not managed correctly, can have a negative impact on productivity. But what can businesses do to tackle the ‘summer slump’ businesses face each year?

How to stop it happening?

Firstly, business leaders need to be proactive and ensure they are offering staff adequate support. They also need to put strategies in place to keep employees motivated throughout the summer. Without putting provisions in place, businesses are setting themselves up for failure, and may struggle to maintain the productivity they need to survive during the summer months.

In my experience, one of the major reasons employees take time off during summer is due to a lack of childcare during the school holidays. This can be an added strain on families, and businesses need to recognise this and offer support. All too often businesses state that it is an employee’s own responsibility to coordinate this, however I would argue as a business leader that extra support should at least be offered. Things like flexible working and giving staff the opportunity to work from home could alleviate a huge amount of pressure, without having too much of an impact.

Business leaders also need to acknowledge the impact summer absences could be having. Unexplained absences from work cost UK businesses £18bn in lost productivity each year, and at least 20 percent of all workers admit to calling in sick during summer to make the most of nice weather – according to research by the Centre of Economic and Business and Monster. A vast proportion of these absences occur during summer, with employees struggle to manage their work/life balance during the school holidays or people trying to take advantage of the unpredictable UK weather.

Finally, organisations need to be more strategic and think about what they can do to ensure their workforce remains motivated. A big aspect of keeping employees motivated during summer is ensuring they still want to, and are happy coming to work. This can be difficult, especially as the weather improves, however small gestures such as relaxing dress codes, encouraging employees to take a full lunch breaks outside and offering cold drinks throughout the day can have a hugely positive impact.

Lessons from Sellick Partnership

At Sellick Partnership we run a highly successful Teambuilding event each summer to reward our employees for their hard work, and give our workforce some socialising time away from their desk during working hours. This event always gives our people something to look forward to, and greatly enhances productivity and motivation throughout the summer months.

That all being said, it is virtually impossible to fully change unexplained absences in any organisation, so I would urge business leaders to have a process for dealing with them when they do arise. If businesses do not have a strict policy in place, employees may not see being absent as an issue which in time will be hugely costly to both the business and the employee in question. But, if a business is able to put strategies in place to keep employees happy and motivated, they should be able to reduce the amount of absences and keep productivity levels high all year round.

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