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Keeping HR Teams Engaged During the Summer Slump

Summer brings hot weather, longer days, backyard cookouts, and family vacations. But for many human resources professionals, recruiting and hiring practices slow down, often making the days seem longer than they are. Even in this still hot talent market, many employers are slowing down their recruiting practices by instituting hiring freezes in the face of rising inflation, stalled supply chains, and increasing interest rates.

Forbes recently reported that Microsoft, Meta (Facebook), Twitter, Intel, Lyft, Snap, and Uber are all implementing hiring freezes, slowing the hiring growth of their companies. And it’s not just big tech. For example, General Motors recently reported that it won’t fill its 3,000 open positions until sometime in 2023. 

So, how can HR professionals stay engaged during these slower summer months with little to no hiring?  Keep reading to learn four ways for keeping employees engaged, happy, and productive.

1. Promote Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible work arrangements are now more common than in previous summers, with the global pandemic normalizing work-from-home and hybrid schedules. Encourage reduced, flexible work schedules allowing your employees to enjoy the warm months – with shorter, more flexible work weeks.

Consider implementing short Fridays – let your employees get a jump on the weekend at 3:00 pm instead of 5:00 pm. If you don’t normally offer remote work options, consider letting employees work from home one day a week. 

With more flexibility in their schedules, employees can find small pockets to recharge during the workweek while also juggling summer family obligations, like children’s camp schedules or daycare arrangements for parent employees. 

2. Encourage Days Off for Vacation

If work is slower during the summer for HR professionals, then that’s the perfect time to take a vacation. However, American employees tend to leave vacation days on the table, forfeiting time away.

With travel severely limited during the height of the COVID epidemic, the past couple of years don’t accurately measure employees’ vacation days use.  However, according to studies from right before the pandemic, American employees used only 54 percent of their earned vacation time. Twenty-three percent of employees take all their earned vacation time, and nine percent don’t use any time off.

Vacation time not only allows employees to rest and relax away from work, but it also serves as a distraction (and a good one) from those slower months in the office. Additionally, time away allows people to reflect and gain perspective, often allowing them to bring novel, creative ideas back to the workplace – boosting engagement, innovation, and productivity.

3. Focus on Continuing Skills Development 

Learning and development continue to play an integral role in attracting and retaining employees.  For example, LinkedIn recently reported in its 2022 Workplace Learning Report that employees who feel like their skills aren’t being utilized at their current employer are 10x more likely to look for another job where their skills will be utilized. 

However, HR professionals can’t get through their to-do lists during certain times of the year.  This makes summer a perfect time to focus on continuing skills development before the busy-ness of the fall.

Here are some top focus areas for L&D programs in 2022 (notice how many are HR-related!):

  • Upskilling or reskilling employees
  • Focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion measures
  • Supporting employee performance
  • Focusing on employee wellbeing
  • Learning about how to boost employee retention

4. Involve Your HR Team in Strategic Planning

Summer is also a prime time for strategic planning, especially when work slows down and HR professionals aren’t being pulled in seemingly a thousand directions. Critical to strategic planning is talking and listening to your employees. 

Here are some key ways to involve your HR team in strategic planning:

  • Identify current wins and pain points, helping to clarify where you stand
  • Create brainstorming sessions, allowing employees to talk freely and creatively
  • Implement employee ideas into the larger plan, showing that employee ideas are valued and embraced
  • Assign tasks to employees, making them owners in the strategic planning process
  • Create reporting deadlines, allowing your HR team to celebrate wins (both small and large)
  • Build strategy into employee work plans, helping your team how they’re individually connected to the larger picture

Keeping employees engaged during the summer months creates an opportunity for individual and organizational growth while embracing wellness, rest, and relaxation – all of which builds engagement, loyalty, and productivity.

Want to learn more about managing your HR talent during the summer slump?  Contact Cangrade today.