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Ultra orthodox Israeli women work at computer terminals in the offices of Matrix Global, a unit of Matrix IT Ltd., in Modi'in Illit, Israel, on Sunday, April 29, 2012. Israel's unemployment rate rose in March as labor participation increased and economic growth slowed amid European debt concerns. Photographer: Ariel Jerozolimski/Bloomberg
Business Insight: Summer tips to keep the workplace sunny

As temperatures and distractions rise, productivity can dips

First Published Jul 13 2012 12:07 pm • Last Updated Jul 13 2012 06:10 pm

Chip Averwater, author of "Retail Truths: The Unconventional Wisdom of Retailing," has some advice on how businesses and organizations can get the most out of the year’s warmest months.

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How can bosses compete with employees’ thoughts of upcoming vacations?

All of us are naturally excited about pretty weather and upcoming plans for time off. Instead of begrudging anyone their vacation, we need to acknowledge that they’ve earned the time and deserve it. We can encourage best efforts at work by practicing enlightened management. Contrary to popular belief, managers don’t really create motivation in employees — they bring it with them on their first day of work. To help employees maintain it, they should be given a valued role to play, and they should be provided the necessary training, tools and feedback, while also being recognized for their efforts and contributions. Summer is an excellent time to review those roles.

Give some tips for snapping employees out of warm-weather lethargy.

When temperatures outside rise and business slows down, it’s easy for the workplace to slow down, too. Customers are fewer and projects aren’t as pressing, so often the daily reminders of what needs to get done aren’t present. One technique for revving the engines is to have a group brainstorming session to create goals and discuss what changes and improvements would be helpful. Almost everyone will have noticed opportunities, and being asked for opinions gets most people motivated. When someone seems particularly passionate about an idea, they can be offered the chance to direct its execution.

How does respect come into play?

It’s a key to maintaining motivation. Everyone wants to feel valued — no one wants to sit on the bench. Respect is often a simple matter of being spoken to politely and listened to attentively. Publicly acknowledging someone’s abilities and achievements goes a long way. Offering increased responsibilities also conveys respect. Good employees don’t view additional responsibilities as a chore or burden, but rather an honor and reward.

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What about flexible summer schedules?

They can be a valued perk. Sometimes shifts can be adjusted so employees can attend their kids’ sporting events, take a weekend trip or spend some quality time with their families. Employees recognize the special consideration they’re given and know that it wouldn’t be available in many other jobs. That creates appreciation for both the job and the manager.

Dawn House

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