Helping Productivity Survive the Summer
Irish employers don’t have to think about keeping their staff comfortable in high temperatures very often, but right now it is becoming an issue. It’s better for everyone to have some clear rules laid out before a conflict or confusion arises.
One British man is having his moment of internet glory after he posted about his company sending him home for wearing shorts, which was against company rules.
He returned in a dress, which was not against the rules. Angry staff on social media is not how you want to raise awareness of your brand! So here are two quick, common sense ideas to help your team get through the current heat wave and the rest of the summer without a mutiny.
No one wants to wear a suit when the temperatures are in the upper 20s. Society has become more casual, and in exceptionally warm weather few people would be bothered by staff forgoing the suit and tie. But that doesn’t mean you can have people arriving to work in tank tops and flip flops.
Give your staff some official, written guidance on appropriate summer attire. Spell it out and let them know that yes, ¾ length smart shorts are allowed but short shorts are not. Smart casual short sleeved shirts are fine; tank tops are not. Your rules should reflect how much the staff deal with the public and any safety issues such as working with machinery. Open toe shoes, for example, can be a hazard in some workplaces. What works in an office away from the public is not going to work for a kitchen crew, for example. An even better method is to provide stylish company branded workwear which your staff will feel comfortable wearing in and out of the workplace.
We all know it is important for health to stay hydrated during warm weather. But we also know how easy it is to spill drinks and ruin paperwork or computer equipment. If your company has a ‘no drinks at your workstation rule, this is the time of year to find a solution. Would allowing water bottles but not glasses or cups be a workable compromise? If not, maybe allowing staff short breaks every hour to get a quick drink of water is a better idea. An uncomfortable staff member is not a productive staff member.
It’s important for everyone to understand not only the guidelines about clothing and drinks but also when they apply. You can set guidelines based on the date or the temperature. Or you can make a decision weekly or even daily and communicate that to staff in writing. The goal is to avoid confusion, which leads to conflict. So everyone needs to be sure about when the warm weather rules are in effect and when they are not. And the decision needs to be made on clear, objective grounds such as an expected temperature from a specific source such as Met Eireann or a calendar date.
Whatever changes you make to accommodate your team in hot weather are not only going to make them more comfortable, they are going to make them feel more valued. If you aren’t sure what your team needs to get through the warm weather comfortably, why not hold a staff meeting to ask them?
Hash out a policy together. If people are included and respected in the process, they are more likely to respect the rules you make. By talking, you also make it clear that the door is open and they can ask questions to clarify or make suggestions. Maybe your work environment has some challenges that lighter clothing and more water don’t address. The people on your team are the experts on what can make them most productive, so don’t hesitate to ask them.
By talking, you also make it clear that the door is open and they can ask questions to clarify or make suggestions. Maybe your work environment has some challenges that lighter clothing and more water don’t address. The people on your team are the experts on what can make them most productive, so don’t hesitate to ask them.
But there are times you need to make an executive decision. Maybe it’s a sweltering Friday and it would hurt nothing to let everyone go home an hour early. Or perhaps surprising the staff with a supply of ice cream in the break room would give them a renewed burst of enthusiasm some random summer day. No one will feel slighted by those kinds of executive decisions!