With the onset of summer, many diversions and detours affect personnel performance. Imagine the daily 2 o’clock doldrums bringing down productivity 24/7 from Mid-June through Labor Day like a pandemic of blue flu.
It happens. Minds drift to vacations, sports, the beach or pool. Heat sears the self-starters; humidity saps the energy from A-team enthusiasm.
The summer months are tough on creativity at work. But savvy organizations combat malaise and mass mental melt with their ingenuity.
DON’T FIGHT SUMMER. REJOICE IT.
Starting in Mid-June, shift internal communications to a ‘tropic theme’ in look and feel. Visual excitement does make a difference to most individuals and teams. Time to spice up those intranets, websites, and internal emails with a little fun now and then. Companies with personality and a sense of humor give more and get more from their talent.
MAKE CASUAL FRIDAYS “KICK-OFF THE WEEKEND” FRIDAYS
We act as if Saturday and Sunday isn’t part of the week. Really? Everybody, and I mean from the CEO on down the ladder, is thinking about 5 O’Clock somewhere. Don’t ignore this; use it to your advantage.
Breakrooms, lunch rooms and lobbies can become little Margaritavilles on Fridays. Jimmy Buffett, tropical smoothies, luaus, and limbo contests for “no reason but the season” spark a life into the troops. Throw in some bling and swag. Give away a three-day getaway to a local resort as an incentive.
Want to be really wild and crazy? Do it on a Monday to start the week.
GET PEOPLE USING VACATION AND PTO
We all know American workers aren’t doing two-week vacations anymore. Many are not using all their vacation time at all. Talent needs to recharge, regroup, and refresh — and your most productive and creative players often don’t take any time at all.
Work creatively with department heads and high-stress teams to insure players realize and rely on time-off to balance their lives. ‘Teach’ some of your best and brightest to recognize and value time away from the office to renew and replenish mental strength.
Three or four day weekends do, in fact, do wonders for individuals if you can get them to free themselves of the omnipresence of career. Do everything you can to get staff to recognize and honor time away from the office — turn off the texts, silence the smartphone, eliminate email, postpone PDFs, and disconnect from the digital devil. Impossible you say? Well, you can help change the culture if you track the loss of your talent to health issues, burn out, and migration to other companies.
It is amazing that so many are now aggressive with their daily physical training but ignore the important and essential cerebral exercises — like recreational reading, concerts, live theater, hobbies, fun sporting activities — that enrich and entertain. Without these things, people become brittle and brackish while their minds continuously revolve and rewind in a one-way road called work.
The workplace can become more human, more interesting, more enjoyable with some cultural flexibility. Is Jack becoming a dull boy and Jackie restless and irritable because life is “all work?” I know, they are getting paid to be productive and on the job eight hours a day, but the majority of their life experience is within your four walls — and far too much is going home with them every night in briefcases and digital devices.
Take a walk around the building today. Look up and see the environment. Listen to the sound of work. Is the aroma just copier toner and coffee? Life is made from the five senses — what happens to your workforce when they enter the ‘cube farm’ every morning? You can almost taste it, right?
CREATIVITY AND INGENUITY NEEDS NURTURING
I bet you print out little certificates and your best workers and performers get ‘good do-bee’ paper incentives now and then. Some people appreciate them, but most realize they are not much in the grand scheme of things.
How do you provide genuine ways of nourishing your staff to be highly creative at work? To truly work smarter, not harder? To be authentically ingenious?
1. Sincere spoken words from interdepartmental workplace leaders.
2. Know who they are at work and home — and appreciate their lives.
3. A frequent smiles and hello — with an occasional perk — like a private lunch with the HR director and department head.
4. Some fun at work on a weekly basis — not just around holidays.
5. Know what makes them tick. Why does Sally come to work here every morning and what would make her kick it up a notch?
6. Money. Nothing catches attention like money.
We all now hail “talent acquisition”, but do we fully understand the investment in “talent development and retention?”
Jimmy Buffett sings a wonderful song entitled “Its My Job.” I’ll bet a margarita most HR folks never heard of it. Maybe you need a little more R&R and less HR to nourish and recharge.
Changes in attitude demand it.
Douglas Arnold, The Ingenuity Guru, is a writer, workshop leader, and speaker on ingenuity, imagination, and creativity. His upcoming book “Ingenuity!” focuses on sparking greater innovation in the workplace and the community. Follow him here and on Twitter @DouglasArnold