Leaders: Summer and Creating a Balanced Workplace Culture

After many years of studying successful workplace environments and successful business leaders, I’ve found the vast majority of those who are successful for the long haul are those who recognize that planned time off is a valuable investment in their business and in their people.

The reward of “time off” for ourselves and our team members recognizes our effort throughout the year and makes it possible to have a life beyond the four walls of the building.

I’m accustomed to hearing about stress from my clients, but lately I’m noticing it even more. Troubles in the economy have people worrying about prices, retirement funds, and whether or not they or their spouse will keep their job, etc.  I believe that in times like this time off is more important and valuable than ever.

What’s more important to the overall culture of a company is whether the leadership is tuned in to the stress of their workforce. It can be frustrating when organizational leaders, managers, business owners and company officers talk about workplace culture as something that happens beyond their control.

In those situations, I work with my clients to really focus on what they’re doing to create and maintain the “culture” they desire.  For example, if attrition levels are climbing, it’s time to look at what they are doing to instill a sense of loyalty. Are they rewarding their best people? Are they encouraging them to take time off and balance their lives? Do they make them feel welcome, like family?

During these slower months of summer, organizational leaders can take stock of how they’re doing and perhaps put their hands back on the steering wheel of their workplace culture. If it’s off course, it’s not too late to work to correct it.  Leaders, summer is a great time to help your employees to feel appreciated, rewarded and trusted.

Here are just a few ideas, but I’m sure you can think of some of your own:

Weekly BBQ – The leadership of a larger company I worked with hosted a BBQ Lunch every Friday during the summer months.  The CEO, company officers and the top VPs flipped burgers for two or two-and-a-half hours so that they could accommodate all staff lunch shifts.

Team Lunch – In one of my first positions as a manager, I organized a team lunch outside of the office every Friday. This really helped with team building, and helped us get to know each other as real people. We heard things like whose kids were playing sports, whose spouse was getting a new job, or who had an interesting hobby.  What was most valuable was that we learned about the whole person on our work team.

Summer Hours – Many companies and organizations institute summer hours, such as an early “closure” on Friday afternoons. Even seemingly small efforts like the occasional long weekend or dress-down days can go a long way.
Workers, it’s equally important for you to take advantage of these opportunities. Don’t cave into fear by overworking. Invest in your well-being with these ideas:

Say Yes – Don’t skip the BBQ to work at your desk – get out there! Get Creative – Find your own workday oasis by taking your lunch to the park or starting a lunchtime book group. Down Time – Don’t forget that it’s summer! Take in an evening outdoor concert during the week, or organize a family trip for the weekend.

Don’t wait for the company to find ways to build team spirit and loyalty. Take care of the people around you – get to know them and support them. It will personalize the environment for all of you.  If you know someone is having a hard time dealing with workplace stress or personal issues – take them to lunch.

If you have the opportunity to take some vacation time, be responsible about closing out your projects before you go and cover all your bases. Then you can let go of it all and get the rest and relaxation that you need. When you come back, refreshed, you will rejuvenate the whole team in return.