During the lazy days of summer, how do you maintain team performance and productivity?
Let’s explore what really happens to you, and your team’s performance, during the summer....
Does team productivity drop over the summer?
Research by American Express (Open Forum) and LSE has shed light on some interesting results.
Over the summer, there is a:
20% decline in productivity
200% increase in online shopping during work hours
120% increase in employees searching for a new job (during work time)!
One astonishing fact is that projects using the same number of staff take on average 13% longer during the summer!
What causes productivity to decrease during the summer?
Here are just 4 of the reasons workplace productivity can drop over the summer.
Heat related effects
Heatwaves can cause a drop in productivity and can have several heat-related effects on the performance of your team. Many people complain about not being able to sleep properly, the stifling commute and stuffy offices. These factors have been shown to impact performance.
Work life commitments
During the summer there is a childcare squeeze with lengthy summer holidays and the cost-of-living affecting parents. This leaves them juggling work and home priorities, which can be distracting at best!
Due to the downtime of some projects during the summer and key clients being away from work on their own holidays, this can be a time when your team start to relax as they replenish their own reserves after a year of stressful projects. One piece of research from the University of Amsterdam found that people made better decisions when they were involved in routine, and mundane tasks from time to time. This down time is vital.
The absence of decision makers
Teams in functions such as sales and marketing can naturally see a drop in results from their usual performance as key decision makers leave for the holidays.
At best this can mean the team don't hit their normal lead generation targets each week, which can lead to a lull in both performance and effort. Essentially, as the team produce fewer results over the summer from the same amount of work, they may be tempted to take their foot off the peddle.
This is why planning for slow months is so important, both for the business and the individuals within this team, to avoid a feast and famine approach.
Maintaining performance during the summer
So how can we maintain performance during summer? Here are 5 ways to keep up the focus during the holiday season:
1) Take your holiday
Yes! Take your holiday and enjoy it. When we take a proper break, we come back refreshed and bring more focus to work. Stop saving those days or worse still, not using them. And, stop checking your email, whilst you are away!
Leaders – encourage your staff to schedule their holidays early and if you can, set an example. Try not to respond to email when you are away. Identify someone you can trust and ask them to call you on your personal mobile, only when there is a real emergency.
If you worry about returning to 2000 emails, one ‘enlightened’ manager instructed his staff to put in their out of office message, “I am currently on holiday and all emails that arrive during this time will be deleted. Please note, I am back on xxx, so please send your email on this date.” After all, how many of those emails will have been resolved by the time we return from a two-week holiday?
This sets up a culture where work is viewed as work time and rest is viewed by everyone as rest time! Recently, for those who operate in a hybrid environment, these lines have been blurred. Perhaps it is time for a reset.
When you build a company culture that promotes spending time away from work, this promotes wellbeing and allows your team to come back refreshed with innovative ideas.
2) Build in some team building activities
Summer picnics, Team Charity days and team building events help bond teams, especially those which have been dispersed by hybrid working. Even consider or encourage quieter times to be used in ways in which you can replenish your resources and build resilience. Streamline the office and virtual spaces (inboxes and shared files), sorting all the little tasks that you don’t have time to do when you're really busy.
You can also utilise this season to add in some extra team development. The year can be busy, so this can be a good time to grow the skillset of the team. Blended learning can be a great way to achieve this in a hybrid setting.
3) Set Clear Summer Goals for your team
Set three clear summer goals for your team and for yourself.
SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) goals can be assessed at the end of the summer.
Having concise clear goals for the summer keeps the team motivated without falling into the trap of thinking ‘let’s start again in September.’ You can even set goals that fit in with building your resilience and resources for busy times. This means you allow yourself to move forward without putting yourself on high alert during the slower months too.
Creating and actioning future goals is an art in itself. There are many development sessions you can run throughout the year to help keep your team on track all year round, and during Learning at Work Week, from ‘goal setting’ to ‘becoming unstuck.’
4) Adopt flexibility
Staff appreciate a little more flexibility. Particularly in the UK, where fine weather is not guaranteed. Being able to make the most of the warm days by leaving early is a great morale booster. This can have a significant effect on employee retention, with those given flexibility being four times less likely to become a retention risk.
Adopting flexibility can be also extremely helpful for carers and parents who struggle with childcare costs during the summer.
For many the long days of summer are a time for reflection. Your people will take time to reflect over the summer, and how flexible their work is may play a role in their future plans.
Arriving and leaving early on Fridays (if operationally acceptable) is valued by 28% of employees as is having a more relaxed dress code – 5% of staff.
5) Break down your organisational goals
Finally plan your big goal for the next week! What is the one priority you need to deliver? Giving yourself a clear priority each week, means you are less likely to feel lethargic.
Taking time to celebrate your achievement each week helps keep you motivated and reawakens passion in your role. We all know the boost from crossing something off your to-do list!
6) Embrace down time
Some acceptance around slower months can be healthy. Quieter times can be used to replenish your resources and build resilience. Emotionally having some down time means you are more rested and ready to take on future challenges during inevitably busy times with a clearer head. This leads to better decision making and more effective working.
How Designed4Success can help
To capture your chance to boost performance this summer and beyond, for you and your team, speak to D4S.
We specialise in leadership and team development, culture change & behavioural projects and more.