Here’s how to keep your team happy when it’s 25 degrees outside


Ever notice how hot and sunny weather can hit productivity and increase sickness absence? The human body is not designed to work in sustained high temperatures and lethargy can easily creep in to the working day, particularly if businesses aren’t flexible when hot days set in over the summer.

Here’s our top tips for maintaining attendance and performance in your team:

Plan ahead

Most businesses don’t test their fans and air conditioning until a hot spell arrives – but how do you know they will still work if they’ve been stored since last summer?  Be smart and test your systems in the Spring.

Know the rules

We’ve all heard the temperature myths from time to time – ‘if it goes above 25 degrees you are supposed to send us home’! Not so fast: The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 says that your employer must maintain a reasonable temperature where you work, but it does not specify a maximum temperature. There is, however a minimum temperature of 16°C, or 13°C if your work involves considerable physical activity.

Hydrate your workforce

In hot weather, it is important to make sure your staff have access to cold drinks. Hydration is crucial to happy, healthy staff, so consider giving staff extra breaks to rehydrate if they are not allowed to drink at their desk, or consider relaxing that rule for water.

Relax the dress code

Even where business dress is important, relaxing the dress code a little in hot weather will make staff more comfortable and therefore more productive. Think about short sleeved shirts and no ties. Customers will understand as they will also be suffering.

Small gestures go a long way

If there’s one way to get your team going, it’s free canned drinks, strawberries or even ice creams. Give your leaders a small budget now and again and these little gestures will go a really long way.

Introduce flexibility

Offering flexible start and finish times will help staff avoid stifling heat while commuting at busier times.  You might even permit home working for those staff who are able.  If, however, you do this, make sure everyone is aware of who is working, where and when and make sure sickness absence and staff holiday is still both accrued and deducted for remote workers.

The key to all the above is engagement. There’s no point in offering things to your employees if the team does not want them. Ask your staff what would make them happier and find the right balance. A happy team is a productive team, which offers a win/win for employers and employees.

4 things to consider before making a big career change

Job dissatisfaction can be a huge contributor to demotivation and under-performance at work. If you’re demotivated, and things aren’t going well in your career, everything can seem like it’s working against you. If your feelings continue, you’ll gradually become even less motivated and it’s likely your performance will drop further in a downward spiral.

If this sounds like you, it’s could be tempting to consider changing careers altogether. Especially if your work makes your stressed, unhappy, or any of the above.

But – making that change could be even more stressful - and a big challenge! How will you get interviews for jobs when you have no experience? Will you have to take a pay cut? What happens if it doesn’t work out?

Here are four tips from our specialist consultants to help you decide whether a major career is right for you:

Ask your network

Taking a big career step can be a step into the unknown. But do you have anybody in your network who works in the industry you are considering? Or has good useful connections?  If so, try and utilise them. You could benefit from personal introductions via people who can vouch for your character and skills. They might be able to help a new employer understand why they should hire someone with no relevant industry background.

Test the waters

This is probably the most important. Before making the leap to a career change, and risk being no happier than you were before, make sure you really are going to be happier by getting some sort of experience. Although this can sound difficult, it is vital to understand what your new job could be like.

Could you volunteer in the field you are interested in? Is it possible to shadow someone for the day? If the answer is no, could you try and conduct some interviews with people in the field you are considering? Do everything you can to understand what your new career will be like to get an understanding of your future success.

Can you afford it?

Switching careers can be stressful and high-risk. Therefore, the last thing you should do is jump ship if you are struggling for cash. Be prepared to allocate a lot of mental energy into making your new career work. Otherwise, you might not be able to make it a success.

By ensuring that your financials are relatively stable and calm, you won’t have to worry as much if things don’t work out, or if you have to drop pay for a while. It might be painful to save whilst you wait to build up a cash reserve, but it will be worth it.

Make the transition in steps

If you are looking to transition from, say, an accountant to a landscape architect, consider doing the move in steps. Find an accounting job in the landscaping industry, preferably with a smaller firm, and apply for internal jobs from there. Read up on your subject, landscape your own lawn, take gardening courses. Do everything you possibly can to make yourself employable in your new dream career!

Why it’s time to scrap annual performance reviews

Whilst monitoring career progress has always been a useful reference tool for both employee and employer, the advancement of digital technologies in recent years has significantly transformed the way that individuals and teams can impact business change.

As a result of this continuously accelerating pace of development, a new heightened level of organisational agility is not only desirable, but critical to survival in a growing number of industries. Employees with the highest levels of digital skill will be instrumental in a helping a business to stay flexible and ultimately to prosper. However, the methods of highlighting and managing the best talent are often lagging way behind.

Could employee mental health improve?

It’s no wonder then that some of the largest digital organisations, such as Microsoft, Accenture and Adobe are embracing more regular and informal performance management. In 2015, the Wall Street Journal even reported on how this could improve employee mental health as well as recognition. It seems that reviewing what staff did a year ago (or even six months ago in some cases) is simply not efficient enough in the context of the change which the business needs to master.

Performance management therefore needs to allow for more responsive behaviour changes by employees. By facilitating smaller course changes more often, a higher rate of return is more likely. Deloitte famously discovered that two million management hours annually were being spent assessing staff performance and discussing the outputs of the process. Yet, the majority of staff felt that the results gained by conducting these reviews didn’t match the hours put in.

Deloitte have instead moved to a system that involves regularly asking team leaders about their future actions related to particular team members, helping to ensure consistency. When combined with what they call frequent ‘check-ins’, employee work and productive behaviour can be better supported, ensuring greater clarity, alignment and employee engagement.

Try OKRs instead

A number of other high profile businesses including Google, LinkedIn, Oracle, Twitter and The Guardian have moved to a system of OKRs, or Objectives and Key Results. This methodology for connecting company, team and individual goals and measurable results was originally introduced at Intel in the 1970s. The system involves setting quarterly measurable, definitive objectives at a company, team and individual level, and then supporting those objectives with quantifiable key results, against which performance is measured.

OKRs are often made transparent (at Google for example, everyone’s OKRs from Larry Page the CEO down are available to see on the internal directory) but provide a clear directional focus and expectations, ensure alignment at every level, and a high level of awareness of what others’ priorities are. This brings greater empathy and understanding for individual or team priorities, and giving focus to how an individual might make their own priorities align with someone else’s in order to get stuff done.

Ultimately, whatever performance review methods are implemented within your business, it’s important to keep agile. Reviews should be regular, clear, simple and time-efficient to get the best out of your staff.

This blog entry was adapted by an original post by Neil Perkin at Only Dead Fish.