So, things are quietening down over the summer. Time to relax and enjoy the downtime before your comms strategy kicks off in earnest in September, right?
Wrong. People may be heading off for holidays long and short, but summer is the ideal time to shift the comms focus onto your most valuable asset – employees.
For most employees, the daily office routine doesn’t change during the summer months and looking at a blue sky from inside a stuffy office can be depressing.
In fact, a Captivate Network study found that workplace productivity drops 20 per cent during the summer months. Projects take 13 per cent longer to complete and workers are 45 per cent more distracted.
So why not use this summer to turn top down comms on its head by letting employees take control of their own experience and create a real buzz of belonging.
We all know that when a workforce feels appreciated and valued they are increasingly likely to go the extra mile and become ambassadors for your business. And what better way to achieve that than to let them have some fun?
Bringing the fun of summer into the workplace means people can enjoy it even when they’re not on holiday. Why not hold a summer barbecue, have family days with activities for children and adults, and provide food and games if possible?
At food manufacturer Kerry Foods, the annual We Are Kerry Foods celebrations are just that – celebrations of the company, its products, its values and, importantly, its people. Employees at sites and offices across the UK and Ireland are given the time to take part in activities, sample the food they produce, share meals and generally have a good time. Sometimes the celebrations take place over a week to capture all shifts and working patterns, others on a specific day, but all have lots of different activities for employees, and at some sites their families, to get involved with and the emphasis is very much on fun.
People get to meet colleagues they wouldn’t normally talk to or who are only known on email. What’s more, senior leaders roll up their sleeves and do the dishing out, get splatted with soggy sponges and show that they are just like everyone else.
Samantha Wothers, Head of Employee Engagement at Kerry Foods, says the celebrations have become an embedded part of the business and, although they are not the only way employees get to know each other, they are very, very much enjoyed across the organisation:
“Our We are Kerry Foods Celebrations have been running for a number of years now and have become part of our normal business calendar as an opportunity to bring colleagues together,” she explains. “We celebrate the fantastic food we make, thank our people for their great work and recognise all that we have achieved together over the year.
“Our people really look forward to the celebrations, as there’s always lots of fun and food to be had. As part of this year’s celebrations we’re also taking the opportunity to ‘give back’ and say thank you to our local communities. There have been lots of volunteering activities, donations and fundraisers, and teams have been strengthening their relationships with their local communities, which is wonderful to see.”
At Beiersdorf (makers of Nivea among many other products), the UK marketing team used last year’s England v Wales match in the Euro 2016 group stages as the focus point for a NIVEA MEN’s Half Time Team Talk.
“With our sponsorship of Liverpool Football Club (LFC) and the excitement of Euro 2016, football seemed like the ideal theme,” says Alex Gostling, UK Brand Manager for NIVEA MEN.
The event brought everyone in the UK office together to reflect on commercial progress and how every function has a part to play.
Then it was time for a different kind of kick-off, as colleagues gathered to cheer on the teams in the afternoon. At halftime special guest and ex-LFC player Phil Babb provided a match analysis.
Alex adds, “It was great to get everyone together, take a step back and think about how we’re doing. And our colleagues seemed to agree; we had really positive feedback. It was a nice motivational boost to get us ready for the second half of the year.”
Activities like these mean you actually get to know your employees, what they are like as people, what they are interested in and the names of their children. And they get to know you, too.
Of course you don’t have to book an ex-professional football player, and engagement needn’t be expensive.
Why not ask employees to send in photos of their summer activities for a photo wall and contest. The winner could receive a special prize like an extra day’s paid holiday or a hamper of products. Or you could help them understand more about what you do by encouraging them to send in themed or product-related photos, team photos, or posts about potential new products or services.
By creating a team of motivated workers who actively want your business to succeed, you will reap the rewards of a driven, happy and ultimately productive workforce. All of this will generate more profit and improve business overall.
Being happy and productive at work goes far beyond the task or project at hand. It’s the elements that surround a job that decide your enjoyment and dedication to it. Business leaders have a responsibility to ensure their employees are happy – not only to save on replacement costs, but to maximise their human capital investment.