With summer underway employees have more scheduling challenges than usual. Vacations, summertime childcare concerns, and the desire to take advantage of nice weather with an afternoon (or day) off all contribute to employees missing more work in the summer months.
How you respond to these matters will of course be heavily dependent on the nature of your business, but consider making allowances when you can. Working with employees to create a schedule that will allow the necessary work to get done, while recognizing that they have obligations and interests outside of work, will help employees feel valued as individuals. This makes for a happier, healthier, and more productive workforce overall. Below are a few offerings you might consider.
Many jobs don’t allow for flexible work schedules, but if you’re able to let your employees modify their schedules ahead of time – or even last minute (when necessary for them and possible for you) – you’ll generally receive some benefit in return like increased loyalty and willingness to go the extra step next time it’s needed. With proper planning and execution, employees will still be able to get their work done, and with time set aside in advance for their outside activities and responsibilities, they’ll be able to better focus on the tasks at hand when they do sit down to work.
If the proper tools are available, telecommuting may enable an employee to get the day’s work done while out of the office. This may be especially helpful when an employee has a child who needs the presence of an adult, but not their full attention, or when they’re riding along as a passenger on a long road trip. If employees are able to get their work done remotely, they won’t have to take paid time off and you won’t have to suffer the loss of productivity.
Sometimes creative scheduling and telecommuting just won’t work for the employee or the employer. In this case, you might look at reduced hours for a period of time or even a personal leave of absence. This is obviously more of a burden to employers than the other options, but if it’s what is necessary to keep an invaluable employee around long-term, it may be worth considering.
Employers may also want to think about temporary changes to certain workplace policies or practices that would make sense for the summer months. For example, some employers have less business in the summer and choose to close the office early on Fridays during those months. Others will offer an extra day off around certain holidays, such as July 4th or Labor Day. By proactively giving employees a little extra time off, you can choose days and times that are more convenient for the company and ideally minimize employee requests for days off here and there.
Other perks, such as relaxing the dress code to allow shorts or hosting a company picnic, don’t necessarily impact scheduling directly, but they can make employees feel valued. And employees who feel valued will be less tempted to fake an illness for an afternoon in the sun.
The Bottom Line
Work-life balance is hugely important to most employees, and hugely important to an employer’s rate of turnover. In fact, work-life balance has frequently been outpolling money as the most important factor for employees, and these are the kinds of benefits most employees have in mind. While you can’t take away the stressors in employees’ personal lives, and it’s not your job to plan their summer vacation, being understanding of their scheduling wants and needs will help set you both up for success.