How HR professionals can master summer in the workplace
We’re in the midst of a summer heat wave – which means higher temperatures, constant sunshine and more time spent outside. There are many ways that this season can make work more enjoyable. For example, taking vacations and being more active on the weekends can help rejuvenate employees so they feel more recharged come Monday morning. Increased exposure to vitamin D can facilitate feelings of happiness and put workers in a better mood, contributing to a healthier work environment.
However, summer can also be a particularly challenging time for HR and human capital management professionals. In addition to having to revisit workplace attendance and dress code policies, employers sometimes struggle with how to keep employees motivated and engaged during these months. It’s hard to be stuck in an office all day when all you want to do is get outside to enjoy the beautiful weather.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways employers can make sure summer is both a fun and productive time in the workplace.
Address the dress code
As temperatures increase, it’s not uncommon to see employees pushing the boundaries a bit on what is considered appropriate for the office. HR departments are encouraged to send out an email reminding staff of the office dress code policies so they are clear on what is – or, most importantly, isn’t – OK to wear to work.
That being said, one cost-effective way to help boost employees comfort (and make it so they dread coming to work on a warm sunny day just a little less) is to allow a more casual dress code during the summer – whether it be for the entire season or just one day of the week.
Consider ‘Summer Fridays’
Not only can doing so enable a healthier work-life balance and help employees feel like they have more freedom and flexibility, but it can also enhance their performance.
According to Entrepreneur, the origin of Summer Fridays can be traced back to the 1960s, when New York ad agencies started seeing a drop in productivity levels during this time. Since then, letting workers start their weekends a few hours early during the warmer months is a practice that has become widely adopted – and with good reason. Not only can doing so help employees feel like they have more freedom and flexibility, but it can also enhance performance.
Research has found that employees can be as much as 45 percent more distracted during the summer, yet the majority of workers agree that summer hours help establish a healthier work-life balance and increase their productivity, Entrepreneur reported.
Get outside – and creative
Plan a company outing or team-building exercise outdoors to help improve morale, build stronger relationships and facilitate engagement – all while enjoying the warm air and sunshine. Summer is also one of the best times of the year to get a workplace wellness program up and running, as this is a season where people tend to be more inclined to get moving, exercise outside and work on their health and fitness.
Check the thermostat
It’s hard to stay comfortable, let alone productive, in an office if you’re either sweating from the brutal climate or freezing from an AC turned up too high. Last year, a study published in Nature indicated most building thermostats are set based on an outdated formula designed around the comfort of men more than women, since the empirical thermal comfort model uses a value that “may overestimate female metabolic rate by up to 35 percent.”
Although there is no definitive temperature required by the US Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration, the agency recommends keeping it between 68 degrees and 78 degrees.
Allow flex schedules
In addition to Summer Fridays, HCM professionals can enhance summer in the workplace by giving more leniency when it comes to employees schedules. Being able to exercise flex hours can be extremely beneficial, especially for parents who have children on vacation from school.
Refine vacation policy
For employers, the spike in requested time off during summer months can be a little problematic. Obviously it isn’t ideal to have handfuls of employees out of the office at the same time. However, requiring workers to put in vacation requests as early in advance as possible can help with managing the workload. The right HCM solution can make it easy for staff to submit an approval request in advance,and help employers schedule accordingly!