Summer Solution: Keeping productivity high during vacation season

By Lynn Lochbihler

The summer months present unique challenges from a productivity perspective, especially for management. Coming in to work in the morning, it might seem that half the staff is on vacation, and the other half is making great mental headway in joining them.

It is often suggested that employers should use incentives to encourage more employees to take vacations during the winter. This makes a certain amount of sense. In many parts of the world, winter weather means an almost inevitable drop in productivity due to delays in public transit, weather related car and traffic problems, and staff calling in sick.

If more employees took vacations during the winter, it would allow continued high productivity and less problematic transportation challenges during the idyllic summer months. This might be sensible, but it’s never been popular. Most people simply prefer to vacation in the summer, but an incentive of some kind might convince a few staff to take their vacations in the winter and cover for other employees later in the year. I know some companies that give one extra week of paid vacation to anyone willing to take all their vacation in the winter.

For many industries summer isn’t business as usual, but there’s no reason that has to mean less business gets done, in fact, in recent years, in order to remain competitive, companies have had to maintain productivity levels throughout the summer months. Making use of the right tactics can help make sure productivity doesn’t dip. This carries a nice bonus: the same practices can also help boost staff morale and encourage initiative which ultimately results in greater customer satisfaction.

One of the biggest challenges around vacation time is simply trying to synchronize schedules. The process can be very frustrating, but it’s important to remember that everyone involved shares at least one similar goal. After all, any employee who doesn’t care about maintaining productivity is probably on the way out the door one way or another.

Bear in mind that even the most loyal staff member has concerns of his or her own. The key is to look for solutions that are satisfactory to the employee, management, and the employee’s coworkers. It’s amazing how often the last category gets neglected.

There are ways to keep productivity from slowing down if you communicate with staff and make your plans in advance. If Bob from Sales needs two weeks off in August, maybe he can put in extra hours in July covering Judy’s rounds. When Judy returns, she’s relaxed and ready to help Bob’s customers while he takes a trip with his family.

One simple way to make your life easier during the summer is to empower your employees to do their own planning. The feeling of being in control is a major factor in job satisfaction. As long as management vets any proposed vacation plans, settles disputes fairly, lets employees have a say in the best time for their vacations, the benefit is less headaches for you and a better experience and satisfactory outcome for employees.



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