During the last full month of summer, it’s easy for employees to get distracted at work. Keeping kids busy or thinking about weekend or vacation plans is far more exciting than addressing the work on their desks. Unfortunately, the result may be a loss in productivity at a time when your small business can least afford it.

According to a study by the Captivate Network, workplace productivity drops 20 percent on average during the summer months. When temperatures rise, attendance decreases by 19 percent and workers are 45 percent more distracted. To prevent productivity from declining, here are five ideas for motivating your employees and keeping them engaged during the “dog days” of August – and all year long.

1 – Get in the Summer Spirit

Instead of struggling to maintain a “business as usual” attitude, embrace the season by incorporating fun activities that give employees a chance to take a break from pressing projects. Hosting a company picnic, ice cream social, or group sports outing allows staff to enjoy time with coworkers and build camaraderie outside the office.

Many businesses relax their dress codes during the warm summer months. Others experiment with theme days where employees are invited to wear a designated color, hats sporting logos of favorite teams, or something distinctly tropical. Be specific about office attire “dos and don’ts” to avoid any misinterpretation of what is and is not acceptable.

Be sure to remind workers to use their vacation time. Some small business owners, particularly those with limited staff, create a culture where their employees feel guilty taking time off. However, stepping away from workplace pressures is vital in today’s business environment, where heavy workloads and increased stress can make employees more susceptible to burnout. Effectively managing vacation schedules will go a long way towards keeping your staff relaxed, refreshed, and engaged, not only during the summer, but all year-round.

2 – Offer Positive Feedback

Providing praise and meaningful recognition for their achievements is one of the most impactful and effective ways to maintain a happy, productive workforce. Many employers overlook the importance of providing positive feedback to their staff, yet, according to an employee engagement survey by The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 71 percent of respondents said appreciation by a direct supervisor had the most impact on employee engagement in their organization.

There are countless creative ways to inject positive reinforcement into your workplace and recognize staff achievements, from comp days to lottery tickets to VIP parking spots. However, remember that something as simple as a thank you note can inspire people to continue producing great work. For larger accomplishments or projects that involved a group effort, you may want to make a bigger show of appreciation. Either way, expressing your gratitude on a regular basis will boost morale and make it clear how much you value your team’s efforts.

3 – Encourage Friendly Competition

Incentive programs can provide goals for your staff when they are less motivated during the summer months. Inviting employees to engage in a little friendly competition is a relatively inexpensive way to energize them to refocus on work, and it can also benefit your bottom line. For instance, hold contests to see who can complete the most tasks, generate the most sales, or get the most positive customer feedback. Then reward the winners with perks like gift cards or an extra day off. Even something as simple as a company-wide summer fitness program can make time spent at work more exciting and double as a team-building activity.

4 – Invest in Education

Competent and informed employees are naturally motivated to ensure your company’s success as well as their own. If your seasonal business is slow during the summer, use the downtime to invest in educating your staff.

There are numerous ways to provide training for your team. Investigate local colleges and community organizations that may offer affordable professional classes in the evenings or during the workday. Send employees to seminars or bring in consultants who can provide training that is in line with the newest standards or innovations in your industry. This will break up the daily routine and equip your team with the skills and knowledge to become better professionals and make your business more competitive.

Small business owners often use working capital funding to pay for training programs or professionals to provide education and expertise. Summit Financial Resources offers working capital loans that involve using your accounts receivable and other assets as collateral. We can mix and match from a variety of product options, including invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing. Working capital loans can be used for any business expense, which means you can provide the training your team needs, when they need it, without impacting your cash flow.

5 – Create an Inspiring Company Culture

When employees are happy where they work, they are more productive. A recent study showed that employees who enjoyed their workplace but made less money than they would elsewhere were still happier than those who got paid more for less enjoyable work.

Creating a company culture that is inspiring and rewarding will not only keep your team happy and motivated, but it can have a positive impact on profits. A workplace that promotes fairness, trust, and transparency sets the tone for building long-term relationships both inside and outside of your firm. Cultivating more dedicated employees leads to better customer service and increased customer satisfaction, which ultimately results in a healthier bottom line.

Small businesses that provide a positive and supportive work environment can help employees avoid a late-summer slump. Making the effort to keep your staff motivated will help keep productivity levels steady and let your team know how much their hard work is appreciated.

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Summit Financial Resources specializes in working capital financing for small to medium-sized businesses that need increased cash flow. We provide working capital financing through invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.