Author: Molly Schwartz
During the summer months, your employees might need special attention. Summer is slower paced, more relaxed, and less motivating than the deadlines of winter. Summer is the time that all your employees – even the best of the best – may begin to mentally check out during work hours. You have to learn to be flexible with all your employees, especially with employees who are parents with children now out of school. So give your employees the fair chance to have a break and completely disconnect from the office on vacation. That way they can come back to the office with a better focus and higher performance levels. While they are still in the office, here are a couple ways you can be more flexible and support your employees.
1. Understand the Dynamics of Your Workplace
Have conversations with your employees and have them fill out some surveys. Try to get to know your employees, and ask them questions to improve their performance and work ethic. Do they need to be in the office or out of the office to meet customers? Are they fixed workers, mobile workers, home workers, or a combination of all three? If you get to know your employees and see what they need, you can shift the way the company approaches employees to increase satisfaction!
Work with your employees and other people involved in your company to create agreeable goals for productivity in the workplace, a better use of space, and improved communication skills. Make a positive plan for change by researching other successful business’ way of working and see what works for you. Ask yourself the hard questions about your business: Do you need office space for every employee every day? Could you possibly and successfully move to a smaller office space? Do you have the technology or the budget for the technology to enable a flexible work environment? Once you know the answers for all of these, you can go forth and plan and implement the changes effectively.
3.Try Your Hand at Flexible Working
Flexible working is more than working from home. Flexible working can mean working from whenever and wherever you need to be, whether it’s at home or at a café. Make the best use of technology by using instant messengers and audio/video conferencing programs such as Skype to talk to employees and peers who are miles away. If you have employees who can work from anywhere or anytime, that allows you to be more responsive as a company. There is also a potential to save money in term of office space— you don’t have to automatically provide a fixed-desk for each individual and you can save money on providing desks that aren’t going to be used.
4. Consider Alternatives
If providing flexible hours and flexible working as suggested above is too difficult for your company, try to be a little bit more flexible in other aspects of your business. Consider other alternatives that give employees some control over their schedule. Depending on your company and its business needs, you can try something as simple as letting staff come in late one day a week or allowing staff to leave early one day a week at their choosing. You could also try “Summer Fridays,” which allows employees to take a half or full day off. You could allow employees to choose which day they want to take off, as well. This will allow employees to feel somewhat empowered since they can pick their own schedule to an extent.
5. Give Employees a Day Off to Volunteer
Many organizations hold volunteering programs to get companies and their employees involved in local and charitable organizations. The summer is the perfect time to allow your employees an opportunity to participate in exchange for a paid day out of the office. Here at Kabbage, we have Kabbage Kares, where we give our employees (the Kabbage Patch Kids) the chance to give back to their community. We try to volunteer at least 26 hours a year. Some of the places where we’ve volunteered and spent our time are Camp Twin Lakes, Cabbagetown Chomp and Stomp Chili Cook Off, and Atlanta Mattress 500.
Implementing new practices over the summer could actually increase productivity throughout the year. If you try approaching the average workday and workweek with a little flexibility, it could really increase the overall happiness and productivity of your company. Flexible working does not just mean allowing your employees to work from the place and time that is easiest for them. It means working together to find a balance that benefits the company and doesn’t sacrifice the mental health or happiness of the people that hold the company together. The potential benefits of flexible working include more efficiency, a more productive organization, better customer service, increased customer loyalty, and increased staff retention. You also can look more attractive to potential employees over other competitors and have happier employees.