Four challenges facing employers
The snow has subsided, the clouds have parted, and the sun is beaming – summer has arrived. And it’s about time too. I’m sure we’ve all had more than enough of the extended Canadian winters and unpredictable weather. We’ve all been eagerly awaiting the moment we could finally replace our winter coats and gloves with shorts and sunglasses. But with this pleasant change of weather also comes a number of changes within the workplace – challenges unique to the summer season.
Challenge #1: Vacation time
As an employer, I’m sure you’ve been preparing yourself for this – managing vacation time. How do you manage the high demand of these summer weeks without being accused of unfair play and favouritism? According to HRM Online, here are a few steps you can take this summer to help reduce the annual headache (source):
Challenge #2: Productivity & employee morale
With such nice weather in our midst, there’s a good chance that all the distractions of the summer will curb employee productivity. Whether its day dreaming about being on the beach or the excitement of upcoming vacation plans, there’s no denying many people aren’t too thrilled about being in the office.
Some employers have suggested that the secret to beating the heat is giving back to your employees. Here are a number of techniques you can use in your own office to help boost employee morale and, as a result, productivity during these summer months (source):
Challenge #3: Dress code
While this may not necessarily be a challenge for most employers, the topic has recently surfaced in the news after the Ontario Premier’s office implemented a mandatory summer dress code for her office. Earlier this month, her office released a list of unacceptable summer fashion in a building-wide email from the director of Human Resources.
So what made the banned list? Tank tops, muscle shirts, halter tops, miniskirts or dresses, “revealing” shorts, spaghetti straps, and bare shoulders to name a few. While dress codes are generally up to an individual office, human rights complaints have been made in the past when the requirements are considered sexist or specifically aimed at a women or another protected group.
Challenge #4: Temperature woes
Heat stroke and heat exhaustion pose a very real threat to employees who work outside during the summer. In previous years, people have actually died at work of heat stroke in occupations ranging from agriculture workers to football players. If you have employees working outside this summer, make sure you are prepared to handle this type of situation. Workplaces where heat stress can occur should monitor conditions and ensure that workers get specified rest periods dependent on the measured heat levels. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety offers up some tips to help you recognize and know the warning signs: http://www.ccohs.ca/headlines/text185.html
On the flip side, for those of you working in office environments, be sure not to crank the AC up too much this summer. Studies have shown that workers are far more productive in comfortable or warmer temperatures than when they are cold. In the study it was found that, when the temperature was 20°C workers made 44% more errors and were half as productive than when the thermostat hit 25°C. So next time you see an employee cracking out their space heater or big winter sweater… turn it down!
As much as we are all enjoying the beginning of the summer months, it’s important to take all of these challenges into consideration as employers. Not only will employees be happier and more motivated, but it will also help you have a more enjoyable summer yourself. Time to hit the beach!
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