How to boost employee engagement in the midst of summer blues

Everyone has felt the summer vacation blues, maybe you’re counting down the days for your upcoming vacation or you just got back to a completely cramped mailbox waiting for you on Monday. Either way, getting back or staying in work mode can feel like a tough jump during summer. So how can you maintain and boost employee engagement during the vacation season? Below are some strategies to retain productivity and motivation after transitioning between vacation- and work-mode.

Inclusive planning

First and foremost, one of the most obvious signs of the summer blues is decreased initiative. This might be an indication of employees not feeling fulfilled with their responsibilities and what they’re contributing. Maybe they’re one of the only few in the office, which in turn leaves them flustered with what to do and who to talk to. Maybe they also feel like whatever they’re currently working on, is only a small stepping stone in big projects that are coming up later after the vacation. This goes to say for anyone, when you feel like you’re not making a difference or feeling challenged enough, motivation is always on the losing end.

Here it’s important to talk to your staff beforehand and discuss current and upcoming workload during everyone’s scattered vacations. Do they feel like they know what to do for the upcoming weeks, and like they’re a part of that initiative? It’s important to make sure they feel heard and encouraged to participate in how their role should play out for the time being. In addition, a great way to make sure they don’t feel lost when everyone’s away is to communicate year-end goals and plans for the vacation. The more transparent you are with your employees and the more you give them recognition for successfully meeting the goals during holidays, the more they’ll feel valued for their efforts.

Create a spirited atmosphere with social activities

Even though everyone might be scattered in or outside of office, make sure you plan activities to encourage team spirit. Events like this may include an after work BBQ or redecorating the office on a Friday afternoon. Now that it’s summer, maybe plan a picnic outside during lunch. And why not make it a potluck picnic where everyone brings something to the table. Because we all know that bonding is always done better with food. Pretending the holidays aren’t around the corner in an attempt to avoid work disruption is just bound to leave you with resentful employees. Acknowledge the holidays and celebrate with spirit!

Reward and recognize

While sending out an e-mail with “hope you all have a great vacation!” may feel like a nice idea, it doesn’t do much in regard to boosting employee engagement. Try to figure out a program during the holidays that rewards and recognizes efforts, even the small ones, and on a daily basis. Employee recognition should not be reserved to only twice a year. Businesses need to actively commemorate employee engagement efforts throughout the year to keep appreciation momentum strong.

Also, a great way to commemorate is to offer incentives for working less-desirable shifts or doing work that’ll benefit others away on vacation. This especially goes to say for the service industry when planning throughout the summer season. Trying to fill the gaps with everyone wanting to be away on the nearest beach can be pretty tough. Make sure that you acknowledge employee’s dedication during the day dream season and get creative with rewards. Maybe treat them to lunch or host a fun game with a gift-card prize at the office.

Set reasonable goals and expectations

When trying to manage and plan workload around this time, think quality over quantity. Vacation mode always comes with day dreaming, planning vacations and maybe buying the latest sunnies online, and output is always likely to be a little lower. Also, there might be only a few left in office that might be dependent of coworkers to finish bigger tasks. So don’t overload employees with work at this time, it’s already given that output won’t be as much as usual. This is rather the time to encourage creative projects rather than stress-related huge projects that are due at the end of the year.

Be flexible and instill summer hours

In most cases, it’s always better to allow flexible hours during this time to save your employees from just sitting around alone in the office. Consider letting them leave a little earlier on Fridays to squeeze in an extra hour in the sun or kick-start an early weekend. Keep in mind that everyone has a bunch on their plate during the season, so try to be as accommodating as you can.  Between kids being out of school, great weather, family visiting or just being lonely at the office, be ok with a little extra absenteeism, we’ve all been there. Allow a more flexible workplace and hours, maybe they can work from a café and enjoy a coffee in the sun, or maybe they can sleep in a little longer on Monday. So if you can’t get work out of summer, bring summer to work. This will give everyone a sense of autonomy which is an essential part of engagement.

Promote wellness initiatives

Even though summer brings nice weather, it doesn’t always bring healthier habits. Laying by the pool with the newest chocolate ice cream can be kick to the normally healthy habits. And without healthy habits in place, employees might start to lose energy and feel less productive in office. Here you might want to start a wellness initiative and involve everyone in how it can be done. This might include an outdoor Monday morning walk, drink more water challenge, or a bring a healthy snack challenge. By kickstarting some new fun goals and having a bit of summer spirit, it can really bring employees to their best possible summer mood.

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