Sinking productivity, rising disaffection and distraction — every employer knows the signs of the summer slump. Here’s a three-step guide to keeping everyone positive and engaged.
Look for causes of dissatisfaction within the ranks. Some of the most common reasons are:
- Boredom with repetitive tasks
- Feeling that work isn’t meaningful
- High job stress/overwork
- Not feeling heard by management
- Poor management style of immediate supervisor
- Below-standard pay rates
- No opportunity for career growth
While soliciting advice from front line managers is important, if only to keep them in the loop of any change processes, a direct-to-employee survey will be most helpful in obtaining honest feedback. At Integrity, we regularly distribute questionnaires to associates, and use their comments and suggestions in planning for continuous improvement in their work satisfaction.
Once you’ve identified the issues, you can begin implementing changes. Even if you can’t completely fix every problem, employee morale will improve just by seeing you make a start in the right direction.
The most difficult to solve are those related to the job itself: boring tasks and/or high stress may be unavoidable for that role. Consider providing temporary relief in the form of new challenges or company social events (summer is the perfect time for an outdoor get-together).
Re-examine your corporate culture to see if the reality matches what you think and say it is. Promote collaboration within an open atmosphere, and pay close attention to complaints that one or two people are squelching or ignoring others’ attempts to contribute. Watch for subtle signs of discrimination or ostracization of minority team members.
Look for ways to make the physical workplace safer and more comfortable. This could be as simple as bringing in more fans in areas where there’s no air conditioning or adding some amenities to the break room.
Team building is more important than ever during the summer slump. We’ve already mentioned social gatherings, such as a company picnic or bowling Fridays. Another option is to bring in guest speakers or group leaders who offer the team opportunities to learn new job-related skills. Always popular are staff contests to maintain excitement and incentive.
Recognize a job well done. How often do you and your managers simply say, “Good job” — or do you take excellent performance for granted? You can really make someone’s day and reignite their enthusiasm for the job. Even more effective is financial reward. Consider offering performance bonuses, and review how competitive your base pay rates are.
It’s in your best interest as an employer to solve the summer slump, rather than just ride it out. After all, dissatisfaction usually leads to higher employee turnover — and we all know how expensive that is. Do what you can to improve their experience, and both they and the business will reap the rewards.