For managers, a primer on dealing with the dog days

Summer flow: There are ways to keep employees in the right frame of mind during the distracting summer months.

During the winter, when it’s cold and dark, people don’t mind being indoors and getting work done. But in the summer, when the weather and the sunshine are calling, how do you keep your employees motivated and focused?

I don’t know about you, but during the summer, I don’t want to be cooped up behind a desk any more than my staff does. The goal is to find ways to balance the workload and the call of the great outdoors.

Here are some ideas that we either do at Cerini & Associates or have done in the past, to help keep staff motivated at work when they’d rather be at the beach:

1) Flex Fridays: Obviously, it doesn’t have to be a Friday. You can change it to whatever day of the week that works for you. Some companies allow everybody to leave early on flex day, but we have found that staff would rather have a full day off to start their weekend early – and with the traffic on Long Island, allowing staff to leave early just dumps them into a traffic nightmare. So, for a period of eight weeks, each staff member gets every other Friday off. This provides them with the ability to spend the whole day out of the office and still ensures that the office can function, as half of the staff is still here for the whole day.

2) Ice cream man, ice cream man: Who doesn’t love the ice cream man? There’s something about that stupid little jingle that brings out the kid in all of us. Give a call to Mr. Softee and have him bring his truck to your office. Watch how quickly the smiles grow when everyone realizes the ice cream is on you.

3) Outdoor meetings: Who wants to meet in the conference room when they can meet in a park? Take the meeting outdoors. The fresh air and change of scenery could go a long way toward fostering creative thinking that wouldn’t have happened around the conference room table.

4) Staff Olympics: Every year, we break the staff into teams and they compete in a series of 10 Olympic events (not really, unless they’ve added chair races and games that are not table tennis, but still involve ping pong balls). The winning team gets token prizes like gas cards and bragging rights for the year. It’s a lot of laughs and gets people working together as a team. Throw in some pizza and beer and now it’s a party, too.

5) Play hooky: When you were in school, unless you were a real nerd like I was, you would sometimes cut class and do something fun. Give yourself and your staff the opportunity to do that during the workday. Go to a movie, go bowling, go on a picnic or go to the beach – whatever you do, close the office for an afternoon and play hooky with your staff. You could also….

Ken Cerini: Summer school.

6) Go for a walk: Summer is a great time to get out and get some exercise. Encourage staff to go for a walk – or better yet, start a friendly Fitbit challenge, with the winner (or winning team) earning a prize.

7) Flip-Flop Friday, All-White Wednesday, T-Shirt Tuesday…: At this point, most companies have implemented some sort of relaxed dress code, especially for the summer. What about taking it to the next level and having some fun with it? Plan days throughout the summer where all staff can really dress down. Obviously, you need to balance this with what is appropriate for your work environment, but who wouldn’t like to be comfortable at work?

8) Volunteer: Pick several days during the summer and give your staff the opportunity to volunteer for a nonprofit rather than come to work. Your employees will feel good about helping others and feel good about your company’s philanthropic spirit. It’s a win-win-win – could get you some positive press, too.

These are just some ideas to lift your staff out of the summer doldrums and increase employee morale over the hot summer months. I’m sure if you think about it, you can come up with some great ideas of your own.

If you’re interested in sharing, we’d love some new ideas we can throw into our mix. For us, it’s all about creating the right work environment, because at the end of the day, our employees are our greatest asset.

Cerini is a certified public accountant and managing partner of Bohemia-based accounting firm Cerini & Associates LLP.