I bet the thing most of us miss most about school is summer vacation. I know that for me, even now, long after my last bit of formal education, I still have a little pang of jealousy when I see kids riding their bikes freely down the street as I drive off to the office.
Of course there still are ways to juggle the work, fun, vacation, and dress issues that routinely come up this time of year while still enjoying the warmer weather. But it is definitely a balancing act.
For instance, now that casual Friday seems to have become casual everyday, the question arises: How casual is too casual? And that is a dilemma that seems to become especially acute in the summer months. Are flip-flops OK? What about shorts? Yes, it is true that the casual look is becoming more and more acceptable in the work place, but it is also true that work is called ‘work’ for a reason. It’s not called play.
But that doesn’t mean that everyone can’t have a good time too. I have a friend who is one of the hardest working guys I know. From September through May, he takes no vacation at all. But come June, he has accumulated plenty of vacation time and he uses it wisely. He takes a lot of three-day weekends, for example. And instead of taking three weeks off in a row, he takes a week off each month for three months in a row. By September, he is refreshed and ready to sue again.
I think his is a smart plan. If you can allow staff some extra time off, maybe some three-day weekends here or there, do so. They will appreciate it and usually make it worth your while. The important thing to remember is that as long as their job gets done and they remain a valuable commodity to the business, a little extra time off should be no problem. If you are willing to work around their schedules a bit, they will surely be willing to work around yours.
Another way to make the summer more enjoyable is to organize some extra-curricular work activities. For example:
- If you have never had a group picnic, it might behoove you to organize one, and invite the families along
- Have a girls-night-and/or boys-night out once a month
- Go to the ballgame together
- Close the office down for a day here and there and have everyone do a volunteer project together
The idea is to break things up a little bit. It’s good for morale, its good for employees, and its good for you. Soon enough, we will all be cocooning again around the fireplace, so now is a great time to change the pace.