Summer Planning for Your Organization | Calgary, Alberta

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May 2018 Newsletter
In This Issue
  • Thanks for Joining Us!
  • Summer Planning for Your Organization...Without Overheating
  • Managing Vacation Schedules
  • Summertime Safety Tips
  • Quick Reference: Summertime Productivity Blues
  • Quick Reference: Consider Your Contracts
  • Quick Reference: Retaining and Hiring Seasonal Employees
  • Quick Reference: Nine Tips to a Productive Summer
  • Coach's Corner: Four Ways to Get Employees Motivated After Vacation
May 2018
Volume 5, Number 5

Thanks for Joining Us!

May is here and finally we are enjoying some warm weather! After this past winter, employees are already longing for summer and wise leaders already have the season on their radar. The key to managing summer in the workplace is to acknowledge employees’ work/life needs, balance work with fun, and continue to engage.


This month we have included ideas and advice for managing vacation schedules, keeping employees safe during high temperatures, and remaining productive during the summer months. Keep reading to learn more.


Summer Planning for Your Organization...Without Overheating

It’s important to prepare for managing your organization during the summer months. Everyone looks forward to those warm, lazy days however leaders still have to take responsibility for setting and managing expectations. Here are some tips for getting a head start on summer:

Spell out specifics in your dress code policy. Warm weather usually means more casual wardrobes, but this doesn’t always work in a professional environment. Outline acceptable and unacceptable types of clothing and shoes (and provide examples), and be sure that you apply the dress code policy uniformly and consistently.

Provide flexible scheduling. Consistently coming into work early or late or calling in sick tend to become more of a problem during the summer months. Seasonal perks like flex-time, shorter hours on Fridays, compressed work weeks, and revised work schedules are all offered by some employers during the summer to help employees achieve better balance.

Hire an intern or new graduate. Consider providing relief and support to your employees during the summer months by hiring an intern or new graduate. Interns offer a variety of workforce support and assistance with special projects at an affordable cost. They also bring fresh ideas and perspectives, technical knowledge, and a desire to learn.

Offer time off from work. Time off is a common request during the summer with three major Canadian holidays (Canada Day, Heritage Day, and Labour Day). Be sure to communicate the paid time off your organization intends to provide for these holidays. And be sure to implement a well-organized vacation management process (see below).

Start (or re-energize) your wellness program. There’s no better time to start or re-energize a wellness program than at the beginning of summer. Summer is an ideal time for employees to get into shape and improve their well-being and the workplace can help them do that.

Plan a company outing or event. The summer is a great time to plan a company outing or event and many businesses take advantage of the nice weather to spend time informally socializing with their employees.

Continue to train and guide performance. Engagement often becomes stale in the summer months; that’s why performance management, training, and development shouldn’t wane during the summer months. It’s important to keep investing in these practices so employees stay engaged and productive. Summer actually can be an ideal time for training and development – especially if business is slower than normal during this season.

Prepare for budgeting. The summer passes quickly and budgeting will be just around the corner. Benchmark your employees’ compensation so that you are prepared to make good decisions about market adjustments and compensation increases when budgeting time approaches. Keep a compensation project on your agenda this summer, as well as other HR projects that you haven’t been able to deal with.


Managing Vacation Schedules


Scheduling and coordinating summer vacations requires an efficient and fair process to ensure that employees are able to take time off when desired, but also that the business is able to meet its demands. Here are some common ways organizations effectively coordinate vacations and paid time off:

  • Use a vacation planner or vacation planning system.
  • Create a method for employees to request or “bid” on preferred dates of vacation – such as a vacation request form. Build in supervisory approval.
  • Require employees to schedule time off in advance, but be reasonable about how far in advance they need to schedule.
  • Have employees coordinate vacation time with their coworkers and/or self-manage vacation time.  This helps ensure that “back-ups” exist.
  • Develop policies that specify what criteria will be used to approve vacations (first come/first served, seniority, rotation, etc.).
  • Specify the limits of taking vacation (i.e. people with the same skill set can’t be out at the same time, maximum number of days, etc.).
  • Apply all policies consistently and fairly.
  • Monitor and take into account other leaves (maternity/paternity, sick, disability).
  • Remind employees that the business’ needs need to come first when scheduling vacations. As an employer, you do have the right to require an employee to postpone a vacation or require advanced notice.


Ensuring vacation schedules mesh with your organizational needs requires finesse.

Contact Wendy Ellen Inc. for assistance today!

Summertime Safety Tips

Does your organization require employees to work outside? Working outside in high temperatures can be dangerous if you do not properly protect yourself from the heat and sun. Many people do not realise the effect that the summer weather can have on their health and well being.

Below are some tips to help beat the sun and the heat:
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Coach's Corner: Four Ways to Get Employees Motivated After Vacation

When employees come back to their desks after summer vacation, it will take time for them to get back up to speed and pick up where they left off. But employers and managers can take steps to help speed up that process. Here are a few ways:

1. Communicate clearly.

Help employees beat work overload after their vacation by improving communication. Email inboxes will likely be overloaded already; don’t fill them any more than they already are and communicate face to face, by phone, or through an internal communication network like a team chat. Use the communication method that will best deliver the message. As well, when employees return to work, make sure they have all the information they need to get back to full speed. Update them on any project or deadline changes, input from clients they may have missed over the break or other important information that may have gotten lost in their inboxes.

2. Set new goals.

Employees need long-term goals to stay motivated, but long-term goals aren’t a priority after vacation. Employees need manageable project and overall goals to stay engaged. When they return to work after their holidays, reevaluate project goals to ensure that they are realistic and that everyone is on the same page and knows what is expected. 

3. Facilitate teamwork.

When employees return to work, they typically face an increased workload, and breakdowns in teamwork will keep employees working longer than necessary. To get through post-vacation overload, employees need to understand their responsibilities and work together to complete them. After the break, review roles and assignments with your team to remind those employees who is responsible for what, and to keep each member accountable for his or her work. 

4. Eliminate procrastination.

Once back at work after a summer break, employees are often slow moving. They’re chatting with coworkers about their family vacation, catching up on social media posts and going through pictures. They’re procrastinating. Allow employees to take productive breaks and socialize with their coworkers. Focus on making the most from their time by breaking down tasks and setting priorities and deadlines for each one. Instead of letting them dread that huge mound of work created by time away, ensure that they have a manageable list of tasks.


Quick Reference: Summertime Productivity Blues

A  Captivate Network study of 600 white collar North American workers in 14 major metro areas revealed:

* Workplace productivity drops 20 percent during the summer months. Attendance decreases by 19 percent.

* Projects take 13 percent more time to complete.

* Workers are 45 percent more distracted.

* An alarming 53 percent of workers who leave early on Friday reported a dip in productivity.

* Nearly two-thirds of the workers who reported a decrease in productivity socialized with co-workers more during the summer.

* More than half reported taking extended lunch breaks. Forty-nine percent left earlier a few days a week when the weather got warmer.

As a leader, take the opportunity to outline and monitor summer productivity in your organization and set the guidelines early.

Quick Reference: Retaining and Hiring Seasonal Employees

A particularly efficient way to employ talented people for a season is to retain your employees from the previous season. Keeping your best staff members year after year allows you to save on recruitment and training costs, and ensures you have a qualified, experienced and committed staff.

* At the end of the summer season, ask employees whether they would like to return the following year.

* Keep in touch with employees you would like to re-hire. Offer extra incentives to returning employees.

* Be an employer of choice by providing a fun, flexible, and positive workplace.

* If your top seasonal employees are not returning for reasons unrelated to the job, ask if they have family members or friends who would be interested in coming on board.
* Expand your focus from the typical student-on-summer-break to other labour markets such as retired persons, persons with disabilities, new Canadians, and Aboriginal individuals.

Quick Reference: Nine Tips to a Productive Summer

Spending your summer in the office when everyone else is off on vacation can be incredibly unproductive. But it doesn’t have to be! 

1. Dress appropriately. Many offices relax the dress code during summer months. While ditching the suit jackets to stay cool is great, dressing too casually can put you in a beach mindset and affect your work performance. Leave the flip-flops at home and keep your attire business casual – emphasis on the business.

2. Adjust your work environment. Working outside is a great way to enjoy the weather and stay productive. Schedule a business lunch at an outdoor restaurant or have a walking meeting. If you’re tied to a desk, at least sit near an open window to get some sun, and go outside during your breaks to improve your focus. 

3. Make the most of your time off. We’ve heard it over and over again: vacations are good for your health and your productivity. The key to enjoying your time off in the summer, when your colleagues are also away, is communication. Confirm well in advance with your boss when you can take time off – some want you out when they are, while others prefer you help run things while they’re away. Have other employees cover for you, and be clear you won’t be reachable by phone or email while you’re away.  Don’t worry about breaking the bank; vacation benefits you no matter how far away or long it is. Can’t swing a trip this year? Make the most of your weekends and weeknights. Getting outside as much as you can during your downtime will make it easier to focus at the office.

4. Plan flexible hours. If your company has summer hours or allows you to set your own schedule, take advantage of it. Barring meetings or other commitments, most companies won’t mind exactly when you work, as long as you stay productive and receive your supervisor’s approval. Try starting work earlier to get out at 2 p.m., working four 10-hour days, or working an extra hour Monday – Thursday to leave early on Fridays. You could also try working ‘donut days,’ working in the mornings and evenings while leaving your afternoons free. Just remember that good time management is crucial to getting good work done when you’re working odd hours. If you’re the boss, consider instituting a summer-hours policy, which boosts productivity, causes your employees to take fewer vacation days, and as a bonus, are great recruiting tools.

5. Take initiative. When half the office is away on vacation, you sometimes can’t work on a project because you can’t get approval. But summer is not an excuse to slack off, and showing up is not a replacement for productivity. Take advantage of lulls by finding new projects to work on – why not get a jump-start on any fall project planning? Other ideas include clearing your inbox, learning a new professional skill online, networking, or finding ways to streamline an existing system.

6. Stay healthy. We tend to think of winter as the season for illness. But summer is just as destructive on our bodies due to the excessive heat. When you’re exhausted and have lost your appetite, you won’t be productive at the office. Stay healthy by keeping hydrated. Load up on fruits and vegetables, and avoid heavy foods during the day since they can increase your metabolic heat production. If you exercise outside, do so during the coolest parts of the day. And don’t forget to rest! While we all want to enjoy the weather, don’t overexert yourself – you don’t want to get sick.

7. Review and revise. We’re nearly halfway through 2018, which means it’s a great time to review and revise your plans for the year. You can do this whether you’re an employee or a business owner. What were your goals for this year? How are you faring? What do you need to change? Examine your progress and create a new action plan for even greater success in the coming months. And if you didn’t create business goals this year, now’s a great time to start.

8. Forgive yourself. Some days you’ll be amazed by how much work you churn out. Other days will be spent staring at the clock as it ticks agonizingly slowly. When you have lazy days, don’t beat yourself up too much. Just get the most important tasks done, and take breaks to recharge. Better yet, see if you can see what prompted your unproductive days so you can get rid of them altogether.   
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About Wendy Ellen Inc.
Wendy Ellen Inc. specializes in providing human resource and benefits management skills to small to mid-sized companies on an as-needed basis. From recruitment, Human Resource policy development and legislative compliance, employee retention and engagement, individual advisor/coaching, succession planning to employee development and performance, Wendy Ellen Inc. will help you protect your most valuable resource, your people.
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