Gideon Schulman is HR Director of Pytronot
As we move into the much-anticipated summer months, employers need to be proactive in ensuring that their employees are working in conditions that are both cool and comfortable. Failure to look after the workforce in the warmer weather will result in disgruntled staff, production levels will drop and standards of service and professionalism will melt away, particularly in customer-facing roles.
The following tips will help small businesses keep their staff cool and motivated:
An employee’s working environment has a huge effect upon both themselves and their levels of production. In a recent survey, 60 per cent of employees listed this as important for job satisfaction, yet 37 per cent of workplaces do not offer it. Here’s what you can do:
- Installing air conditioning is the perfect solution but costs are high. It is worth checking with local councils as there are often grants available to assist businesses
- Another less costly option are fans which are suitable for commercial use
- Put blinds up at windows for shade
- Ensure all windows can be opened to allow fresh air in
Take the office outside
If possible, why not hold a training session or plan a meeting outside in a nearby park or grassed area if there are some trees for shade? Another option would be to use a local café or pub garden.
The new surroundings and fresh air will certainly motivate the team and raise morale and employee satisfaction. If this is not an option, simply opening doors and windows and allowing fresh air in, especially in manufacturing and very hot environments, will be welcomed.
Change the dress code
Relaxing strict dress codes will really help. For men, introducing a no tie and short-sleeve-shirt policy are excellent ideas. For the ladies, dispensing with the rule to wear synthetic tights, a common requirement for those in the hospitality and retail industries among others, would be widely welcomed. Introducing a dress-down Friday policy will be popular although a few guidelines are advised if introducing this!
Something as simple as offering jugs or bottles of cold water requires minimal cost but is invaluable in keeping staff motivated and feeling well. Some businesses may bring in an ice cream truck or give staff frozen lollies from a nearby store as an occasional treat. This is often done in large call centres and has a very positive effect.
When temperatures rise, people seem to slow down. Output is reduced and tasks can take longer than usual to complete. By introducing extra breaks, at pre-agreed times to prevent disruption, employees will feel that their needs are being considered.
Popping outside for a few minutes of fresh air will clear the head, ideal if working on a computer screen in a stuffy office. Those in the service industries will hopefully still manage a smile when dealing with customers and those required to wear heavy uniforms will have the opportunity to cool down.
The summer months are often a time when employees are happier to have a quick drink or a catch-up after work. The lighter evenings tend to draw people outside and provide the perfect opportunity to socialise with your fellow colleagues. When the ‘boss’ or a manager suggests a trip to the local bar with drinks on them, it creates a more informal atmosphere and helps to promote excellent staff interaction.