Summertime—and Working Ain’t Easy

Providing flexible hours during the summer months is often appreciated by employees and can help boost engagement. Continue reading this blog post from SHRM for best practices on managing staff during the summer months.


Summertime is that season when "the livin' is easy," as the famous tune by George Gershwin goes—a season when work often takes a back seat to pool parties, barbecues and beach vacations.

How do employers keep workers' heads in the game when their toes are itching for the sand? Or how do they plan for the disruption that summer holidays and vacation schedules inevitably bring? What are their best practices for keeping productivity high?

In the health care industry, patients' needs mean productivity can't fluctuate with the seasons. At Maine Medical Center in Portland, nurse manager Michele Higgins oversees a staff of 70 on an adult general medical unit.

"Summer is busy in health care, especially at a level-one trauma hospital such as Maine Med, but we continue to care effectively for patients, and we remain patient-centered," she said.

Anticipating higher patient traffic in the summer months, the hospital pushes out its June, July and August schedules as early as March. Staff view the schedules, are reminded of guidelines for taking vacation time, and plan time off around shifts or swap shifts with co-workers.

But what happens when an employee unexpectedly calls out "sick" over the Fourth of July weekend? A pool of floating in-house nurses responds to shortages. When the pool of nurses cannot meet the demand, managers ask staff to cover shifts for incentive pay. According to Higgins, a 10-year Maine Med veteran, the numbers typically work out and the medical center maintains favorable nurse-to-patient ratios. But she's always prepared to show up in scrubs and jump in as needed. "Being present is important to me," she said. "I make myself accessible and stay positive, supporting the staff and recognizing their efforts."

Higgins rewards her staff with hospital-sponsored special events throughout the summer. These include "nurses' week" at the beginning of May, when employees win gift cards and goody bags in daily raffles, participate in a book swap, and play games like cornhole. Later in the summer, senior leaders host staff appreciation lunches, smoothie breaks on the patio and an ice cream bar. The hospital also reserves box seats for each of its 23 units at minor league baseball games at Hadlock Field in downtown Portland.

"Maine Med is a great place to work," Higgins said. "But busy is the norm."

Workers Appreciate Flexibility

For employees who are parents, juggling work and school-age children who are either home for the summer, at camps or in day care can be challenging—and expensive.

Recognizing this, some employers observe summer hours so parents can start and end the workday earlier. Employees at Princeton University call it quits at 4:30 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day.

River City Dental, a dental office in Williamsport, Md., operates on an 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. schedule in June, July and August. Office manager Lori Robine reports that the employees, many of whom are parents, appreciate the flexibility of the shortened workday and increased free time.

Workplace flexibility is another benefit that can boost spirits—and productivity—during the summer months. Maine Medical Center can't tweak its summer hours, but fewer meetings are held, and they're even put on hold in July.

When summer arrives, workplace productivity doesn't have to suffer. Employers can look for opportunities to be flexible with scheduling and dress codes, find ways to recognize and reward employees, and host events that celebrate the warm months.

Michele Poacelli is a freelancer based in Mercersburg, Pa. 

SOURCE: Poacelli, M. (12 July 2019) "Summertime—and Working Ain’t Easy" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/employee-relations/Pages/employee-engagement-in-the-summer.aspx


Boating, Biking, and Beaching: Summer Safety Tips for Employees

Originally posted by Chris Kilbourne on http://safetydailyadvisor.blr.com

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in one recent year, more than 3,000 Americans were injured and over 700 killed in boating incidents. Of the people killed, more than 70% drowned, and more than 90% of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.

So the very first boating safety tip to emphasize and reemphasize to employees is that everyone in a boat should be wearing a life jacket, whether or not they can swim.

Alcohol is another factor contributing to boating accidents, injuries, and fatalities. CDC says that alcohol use affects judgment, vision, balance, and coordination, and is involved in about a third of all recreational boating fatalities. Boating under the influence of alcohol is just as deadly as drinking and driving. Not only is it dangerous to operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it's also illegal in every state in the United States.

A third point to emphasize about safe boating is that people who pilot pleasure craft should know what they are doing. This means that they should have taken a safe boating course. CDC reports that more than 7 out of every 10 boating incidents are caused by operator error. Boating education courses teach the rules for safe operation and navigation of recreational boats, and can help boat operators keep their passengers safe.

Safe Biking

In 2010, 618 cyclists were killed and an additional 52,000 were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

To prevent bike accidents, injuries and fatalities, NHTSA suggests the following safety precautions:

  • All bicyclists should wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet every time they ride. A helmet is the single most effective way to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash.
  • Bicyclists are considered vehicle operators. They are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals, and lane markings. When cycling in the street, cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic.
  • Drivers of motor vehicles need to share the road with bicyclists and be courteous, allowing at least 3 feet clearance when passing a bicyclist on the road. Motorist should also look for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space. And they should always yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals. Motorists should be especially watchful for cyclists when making turns, either left or right.
  • Bicyclists should increase their visibility to drivers by wearing fluorescent or brightly colored clothing during the day, dawn, and dusk. To be noticed when riding at night, cyclists should use a front light and a red reflector or flashing rear light, and use retro-reflective tape or markings on equipment or clothing.

Safety at the Beach

The United States Lifesaving Association (www.usla.org) offers beachgoers many lifesaving safety tips on their website, including these:

  • Don’t swim alone. That way if you have a problem, there is someone there to help.
  • Don't swim under the influence. Alcohol impairment affects swimming ability and judgment.
  • Swim near a lifeguard. Your chance of drowning at a beach protected by lifeguards is slight.
  • If you are caught in a rip current, don't fight it by trying to swim directly to shore. Instead, swim parallel to shore until you feel the current relax, then swim to shore.
  • Never dive head first into unknown water. Check for depth and obstructions like rock formations first.