It’s August, it's hot, and no one at your business is feeling motivated—not even you. Don’t give up on being productive. You can still motivate your staff, and find some time for play. How?
1. Mix it up.
Even if you don’t offer flexible hours normally, changing it up for the rest of the month can make people feel like they’re getting a mini-vacation. Maybe your staff would prefer to come in earlier and get off work earlier so they have more downtime. Maybe they’d like to hit the beach in the morning and work later in the evenings. Or maybe they’d rather work longer hours Monday through Thursday and take Fridays off. Ask what options would make people happy and see if you can make it happen.
2. Clean it up.
If business is slow in August, as it is in many industries, consider using the time to get the office in shape for September. Hold a “company cleanup day” where everyone purges their files (both paper and digital), cleans their workspace and organizes their stuff. Bring in lunch and refreshments to keep the energy high. Set up recycling bins for paper and publications. If you toss enough recyclables, you can enlist an employee to take it to a recycling station, then use the funds to do something fun for the staff.
3. Take it outside.
A change of scenery can revitalize you and your team. If it’s not sweltering, holding meetings outside or letting employees take their laptops out on a patio to work are great ways to give everyone a taste of summer (and some Vitamin D).
4. Cool it down.
Feel like your brain is operating in slow motion right now (or not operating at all)? At least one scientific study from the University of Houston suggests that hot weather negatively affects our abilities—and desire—to perform complex cognitive functions such as making complicated decisions. The body uses so much energy trying to cool itself, there’s less left to power thought processes. In other words, air conditioning isn’t a waste of money—it's an investment in your employees being able to think clearly.
5. Pump it up.
Energize your team with contests and games to get them going. Hold interdepartmental challenges like setting goals for each department and seeing who can exceed them. Or hold individual challenges like seeing which employee in a department can make the most sales or handle the most customer questions or pack the most shipments. Bonus: If you get employees to work faster and finish their tasks in less time, you can reward them with comp time off to leave early for the day.
6. Turn it off(site).
Hold a “vacation” from your location by taking your team offsite for a daylong meeting to strategize about the coming year. Find a fun place to gather, like a lakeside conference center or a resort overlooking the ocean. (Make sure to build in some fun time when people can take advantage of the setting.) Get everyone’s insights and ideas for what your business needs to do to grow going forward. By pulling the team together outside the office, you’ll spark creativity, generate new ideas and get everyone enthused about fall.
Of course you want your team to be productive, but cut them some slack at the end of the summer. Remember, you need them well-rested, and motivated, to tackle the end-of-year crunch that's just around the corner.
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This article was originally published on August 15, 2014.