Remember those last few agonizing weeks of school before summer vacation? They were endless, and really, no learning was taking place.
Do your employees seem like they’re holding on to that same mentality? You can capitalize on that vibe. To deal with vacation on the brain, here are some dos and don’ts you might want to try, starting with tightening up that summertime dress code.
Summer office fashion faux pas
Take a lesson from junior high principals across the country for a summer dress code. We all want to be comfy and tropical, but some things are just out of bounds:
- Spaghetti straps are never appropriate for the office. It’s 100 degrees outside and you want to sun those shoulders at lunch, we get it, but toss on a shrug while you’re indoors. The a/c is running, anyway.
- Shorts (if you allow them) must be fingertip length. That is, if your fingertips don’t touch fabric when you put your hands to your side, they’re too short.
- Graphic tees are fun, but they often go too far (or too graphic) with content or design. Unless the graphic is of the company logo, it should be a no-no.
- Pajama pants. Need we say more?
For some companies casual environments are taboo — imagine walking into your lawyer’s office and seeing everyone in a muumuu. But some companies find a work-around for this in the summer. Casual Friday may be a day when no client meetings are scheduled. For those clients who insist on showing up, they are pre-warned to expect the unexpected.
If your employees are fighting over who’s taking time off in July on the last day of June, that means something in the system is wrong. Vacation plans should be requested as early as possible and set long before the brawls begin. Front-line managers may have to communicate with employees to discern vacation plans and plan fairly.
Seniority should factor in who has first picks on primo time off. But if you have junior level employees with children who want to roam in the summer, consider offering trades to others in the department such as an extra personal day to be used later, or some other perk that could lower the heat and save you some aggro.
Linda doesn’t often make it to work on Mondays, but in the summer you can be sure you won’t see her. Tyler often goes missing after lunch on Friday, but in the summer, he’s gone before morning coffee. This type of serial absenteeism needs to be addressed by management and HR long before summer, when it really makes everyone else’s blood boil.
For some employees with a lot of vacation time in the bank, consider suggesting Mondays off from June to August to take advantage of long weekends. The shorter workweek gives that summertime vibe, but doesn’t send the office into a tailspin when they vanish for a month.
Bringing Summer to Your Office
Starting to feel like the teacher who assigns a big load of homework for the last weekend before school ends? Here are some positive things you can do to bring summer to your crew.
If you are a manager with summer on the brain, take advantage (especially on slower weeks). Occasionally tell the staff that if they are finished with their work (say, around 3pm on Friday), they can take the rest of the day off. You'll be surprised how often everyone seems to be already done with their work. Is that the magic sweet spot in their Friday when productivity is maxed to the point of completion? Are they fudging, or just shelving everything possible until Monday morning? Does it matter? More employers are scrambling to offer Summer Fridays for a reason. The two hours it costs is worth the motivation next Friday to hustle in expectation of another surprise.
Have a party
Got a parking lot? Consider an office tailgate party after hours. Have everyone try to park together, bring a grill and a cooler, and you’re set to fiesta.
Make it a mini-fest
Summer conjures up the immaturity in all of us — capitalize on that for fun summer activities that inspire the silly in everyone, like "Luau shirt Fridays" and "Your last vacation souvenir tee-shirt Tuesdays."
Want to keep that vibe going? Toss some silly activities into the mix — most include supplies you have in the office or can grab at your local dollar store. Have employees rotate in and out of the break room to their hand and check for winners with some of these:
- Cubicle Beach Ball: How long can your employees keep that ball in the air while still servicing customers on the phone?
- Office Supply Olympics: The great rubber band challenge of 2017 is poised to begin. Who can get the most rubber bands through the file folder targets? It’s anyone’s guess.
- Chair Races down the Aisle: A classic all year long, but you can mix it up for summertime by having teams row together — holding on to each other as hustle.
- Putting Greenie: Got carpet and an empty box? Carve out some holes and label them with different point values: throw in a putter and release your inner Masters winner.
That summer mentality that got you through when you were a kid doesn’t have to completely disappear when you’re an adult. Make sure your office summer fun stays in bounds and enjoy.