Employee Morale and Productivity: 7 Ways to Beat the Summer Slowdown

Employee morale and productivity can wane in the summer months. Thoughts turn from business goals to vacations, barbecues, and beaches as your employees start leaving early on Fridays for their relaxing weekend getaways. Getting things done amid these summer distractions while maintaining momentum is crucial to your middle market company's success and well-being.

As Employee Morale Wanes, Here Are Seven Ways to Beat the Summer Slowdown

Here's a list of seven activities that fit perfectly into the summer slowdown, allowing your company to be better prepared for when busy season resumes:

  1. Focus on training and development. If your employees are too busy during the peak season to learn new, necessary skills or brush up on old skills, summer is the best time to do so. In addition to enhancing your middle market company's capabilities, training also has a significantly positive impact on employee morale. It shows that you value your people enough to invest in their development and thus improves retention.
  2. Develop new products and find new clients/customers. The summer slow season is a great time to have deeper conversations with your customers/clients about how you can better meet their needs with your offerings. As people have more time away from the day-to-day grind of the peak season, they are better able to explore the big picture of market needs and new product development. Summer can be a great time to network, too, as potential clients may wish to re-evaluate their business relationships and be open to new partnerships with your middle market business.
  3. Update your website, social media platforms, and marketing materials. Ensure they serve the needs of your clients. As online traffic goes down in summer, you can perform upgrades with minimal business disruptions. Look around to see what additional value you can add to your digital platforms. Invite staff participation in this process.
  4. Plan for the busy season and for tax season. The summer slowdown is a perfect time to look at market trends and make sure you remain updated and competitive. Look deeply at your own offerings and compare them to your competitor's offerings. Reflect and make adjustments in your plans and products. It's also a great time to organize your tax documents and engage in tax planning.
  5. Make necessary changes to your physical space and facilities. Improving your physical space will enhance employee morale and efficiency. You probably put these changes off during the busy season as day-to-day pressures took priority, but now is the time to put cleanup and office renovation projects on the front burner.
  6. Focus on retention efforts and team building. Since the workload may be less than during the busy season, summer is a good time to create employee engagement in a number of ways, not just through training. You should consider doing employee evaluations in the summer or intensifying mentoring/coaching programs that can boost employee morale and skills. Also, middle market leaders should use the summer to get a deeper understanding of their clients and their organizational climate. Meet with key people over lunch, have recognition programs, and align your people with the organization's goals.
  7. Recharge your batteries for when the peak season starts. The slower rhythms of summer can help you refocus on what's important rather than on what's urgent (like constantly putting out fires). Taking time away from work allows you to switch your focus away from the business and then return with renewed energy and a greater perspective on where you're going and why. Encouraging your people to take some time off during the summer not only boosts employee morale but also allows them to reconnect with the bigger picture that gets lost in the day-to-day tasks.

How do you get the most our of your staff during the summer months?

Boston-based Chuck Leddy is an NCMM contributor and a freelance reporter who contributes regularly to The Boston Globe and Harvard Gazette. He also trains Fortune 500 executives in business-communication skills as an instructor for EF Education. Circle him on Google+.