Typically, the season for vacations and a general slow-down demeanor, Summer also delivers a variety of challenges to small businesses. For example: while vacations are important to keep employees (and you, business owner!) fresh and healthy while enjoying family and personal pursuits, those same vacations can cause reductions in productivity, delayed delivery of necessary goods, the inability to meet planned goals. And this year, with pandemic restrictions easing and travel increasing, vacations – or even staycations – can have more than the usual impact on your business. Unless you’ve planned for this, you may find your commitments are harder to meet and your business expectations compromised. Here are Summer’s Seven, a list of ways to reduce the impact summer vacations can have on your business.
- Encourage your team to really get away; after all – while Summer may signal slow down and more emphasis on personal time, the 3rd and 4th quarters are right behind when you want to push through to expected goals. Real vacation – a true shift in focus, the opportunity to try something new and pleasurable – can deliver the refreshed level of commitment the 2nd half of the year may require.
- For those who can’t vacation during Summer, consider finding a way to convey ease on the job: a casual dress day, early departure day, company party, liven up the workplace w/plants or dreamy posters. Also, parents of small children may have a harder time getting child care in the Summer; can you be a bit relaxed about their needs? Can you be flexible with hybrid work (working from home as well as in your place of business)? Shift someone’s hours to ease their home needs scheduling? Provide on-site child care?
- Make sure that someone’s vacation doesn’t interfere with ongoing operations: duplicate training, give advance notice of revised delivery expectations for customers, require advance notice of planned vacation dates, keep customers appraised of planned schedule changes, don’t launch new product or service options when short-handed, etc.
- Who’s checking email? While you want your employees to really wind down and enjoy their time off, you don’t want their inbound communications to go unanswered. Have a ‘buddy’ or accountability system in place to ensure the truly important is not neglected.
- Have a clear and enforced process in place for vacation requests; anything more than a couple of days is going to require planning and change for your operations so make sure plenty of advance notice is part of your requirement. You also want to consider how to handle multiple team requests for the same time slot; if you have a small team or the requests come from people with similar job functions that will be a problem for you. How will you prevent this from happening?
- Try a ‘no meeting’ week which offers a bit more flexibility for people’s work schedule and priorities. It takes off a bit of pressure, agreed?
- And, finally, given the obvious burnout from the pandemic, the labor shortage from the ‘Great Resignation’, the recent need for parents to provide school assistance to homebound students, this may be the year you require getaway time for your employees – no business email, phone calls, problems to solve. Time away from work has always been a great technique to refresh one’s thinking, provide creative solutions and generate inspired new ideas. This year, mental and physical health needs are added to that list.
Ultimately, these ‘Summer’s Seven’ adds to your retention of valued employees . So, bon voyage!