Employee Motivation - Summer Strategies

Flex time, or simply taking work outdoors, can improve employee motivation. (Photo via Flickr.com/tanelteemusk)


Nobody wants to be Gary Lumbergh, the despised Office Space boss who needs his employees to go ahead and come into work on Saturday (and Sunday), but what do you do when it’s Friday afternoon and you can practically see the employee motivation at your workplace wafting away into the summer breeze?
Distractions from work are everywhere, especially now that Memorial Day has ushered in the season of barbecues, pool parties and weekend road trips. But when the weather gets nice, you shouldn’t have to resort to draconian rules and micromanagement to motivate employees to stay focused and on task.
In general, employees who feel respected and appreciated are dedicated and likely to maintain a healthy work-life balance. But sometimes even the best of us are lured by the sweet distractions of summer and need a little nudge to keep us on track.
Don’t be a Lumbergh. Try these positive summertime strategies for maintaining employee motivation, whether you have a major motivation challenge on your hands or just need some ideas for keeping everyone excited about work.
1. Unplug/Reconnect
More and more companies are recognizing the benefits of putting a limit to the digital cacophony of our modern-day work. Compulsively checking email over lunch and after-hours — and feeling the need to immediately respond — can lead to burnout and, counterintuitively, to low productivity.
Encourage managers and other company leaders to set a good example by taking breaks from their computers and other devices. Invite coworkers to turn off their cellphones for an hour and join together for a conversation over lunch.
The payoff? Everyone returns to work refreshed and ready to go.
Stewart Friedman, a Wharton practice professor of management, had the following to say about digital disconnection in the 2012 TIME story, “Why Companies Should Force Employees to Unplug”:

“Employers are recognizing that it is helpful for employees to have boundaries. The challenges of distraction in the digital world are massive…. The big issue is attention. In this digital age — which has really only just begun — we are starting the process of learning how to create useful boundaries that allow us to pay attention to the things that matter, when they matter.”

2. Encourage Flexible Schedules
Offering flex time to employees could banish the Friday afternoon work doldrums — and actually increase productivity.
According to a Discovery article, “Employees With Flex Time Put In More Hours,” a study out of the U.K. “suggests that workers given flexible hours by their employers tend to work more intensely than their counterparts with more rigid office hours.” The reason? The employees are grateful for the freedom to choose where and when to work and want to “pay it back” to their employers.
3. Take It Outdoors
Imagine this scenario: it’s a gorgeous sunny day — if you live in a cold or rainy climate, perhaps it’s the first really nice day in months — and your team is holding its weekly meeting in a windowless room with fluorescent lights buzzing.
If this sounds all too familiar, try surprising everyone with a change of scenery and take the meeting outdoors. The sunshine and fresh air is energizing and mood-boosting.
4. Don’t Stop Recognizing
It’s easy to check out over the summer. People are often gone for weeks at a time on vacation, or clocking hours until the next three-day weekend, or simply distracted by activity-packed nights.
But this is exactly the time not to check out of your employee recognition program. Summer is a great time to celebrate employee excellence in unexpected ways, such as sharing a thank-you gift for a job well done or throwing a company wide all-family BBQ party.
Above all, let employees know why the work they do matters. Even in the summer.
“When we know how the work we do every day adds value, we’re far more willing to give discretionary effort to deliver that value again and again, day after day,” writes Derek Irvine in an HR Zone blog post, “Why ROI for Employee Recognition is Rapidly Reflected in Bottom-Line.”
Interested in more ideas for employee motivation or in understanding the psychology behind good workplace engagement? Check out our recent post, “Inspiring Employee Motivation Beyond Carrots and Sticks”.
Here’s to a productive, fun summer!
For more on building a culture of happiness in your workplace, download our FREE Guide to Workplace Gratitude. Click the image below and start sharing your gratitude today!
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