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What I Did on My Employees’ Summer Vacation

Summer’s coming! When your employees are packing their bags for vacation and juggling summertime childcare calendars, are you prepared to keep productivity, morale and customer satisfaction high? We’ve found that with planning, flexibility and maybe a little help, summer can be the best season of all to build a cohesive workplace team and get things done.

Planning. If your company is like most, your operations are running lean. This means planning ahead is vital to keeping your business running as usual during the season when many employees want—and need—to take time off. We’ve found planning to be the magic pill for summer management woes.

Put your vacation policy in writing. This lets employees know exactly how they accrue vacation time, how much time they have available and how to schedule time off. Be sure your policy explains how scheduling conflicts are resolved—is priority given to the first person to request vacation or to the employee who’s been with the company longest? Communicate to staff early on; let them know the more notice they give you about time-off plans, the better you’ll be able to accommodate them.

Work with managers and team leads to create a comprehensive calendar of milestones, deadlines, events and projected peak demand dates over the summer. Overlay employees’ scheduled times of absence on this calendar, and post it where all employees (or all within a specific group or department) can see it. This provides big-picture visibility of what needs to get done and who’s going to be on hand to do it.

Flexibility. With kids out of school, your employees may encounter hitches in their best-laid plans to stick with their usual schedules. The more flexibility you can provide (not to the detriment of the company, of course!), the less stressful and disruptive last-minute schedule adjustments will be to everyone involved. Your willingness to accommodate family needs can win big loyalty points with your staff.

Flexibility brings us back to planning. Think ahead about what accommodations you can make to cut employees a little slack in the summer. Can employees be permitted to work from home for a limited period? Can they make up weekday hours on the weekend? Can they trade shifts with co-workers? Consider whether to formalize the flexible work arrangements you adopt by adding them to your written policies.

A little help. The last thing you want is to let customer service slip while you juggle work schedules. If absenteeism is going to create longer call center waits, missed customer deadlines or lower-quality customer experiences, you need a plan. You may need to ask staff to work longer hours or bring in an intern. You may decide to hire seasonal, temporary or contract labor.

Whatever approach you take to keeping customers happy, you will want to protect your staff from burnout by making sure all tasks and shifts are adequately covered.

Summer is a great time to build goodwill with your employees. It presents a golden opportunity to show your staff you care about creating a livable work environment. Whether you introduce a more relaxed summer dress code, plan a teambuilding event or sponsor a family picnic, the sunny season is a good one for workplace bonding.

Have you found ways to keep productivity humming—and your crew happy—during the summer months? Share with us some of your ideas and the processes you use to cope with employees’ summer schedules.