A business guide to surviving the summer slowdown
Many businesses across Europe experience a lull in activity during the summer holiday period, with some suffering more than others. But instead of panicking over it, or sitting back and taking it easy, organisations can use the time wisely to regroup and prepare for the busier times to come.
Tackle neglected projects
The summer slowdown is an ideal opportunity to take on all those projects you've been meaning to get around to during the rest of the year, but haven't been able to dedicate adequate time and resources to because you've been busy with more important tasks.
Perhaps your website could do with a makeover. Or maybe you've neglected your social media pages and they could do with a little TLC. Take the chance while business is slow to beef up your online presence and make sure that everything is up to date and looking as sleek as possible.
Marketing and brand awareness may come alongside this. Use this uneventful period to re-evaluate your promotional activities, figure out what is working for you and what is not, come up with fresh strategies and put them into action before business picks up again in the autumn.
There are plenty of other projects you may wish to tackle over the summer while you have the chance. Cleaning up your data, getting your finances into shape and putting your tax affairs in order can all leave your business in a much better position to tackle those busier periods when they come.
Plan for the future
Everyone needs a little chill out time, and that includes senior managers and business leaders. Summer may be the ideal time to take a well-earned break, but it's important not to become too blasé. Use the time to look back, adjust and plan ahead for the more eventful times.
Summer is the ideal midway point in the year to examine your business goals and set targets for the rest of the year based on your performance so far. Perhaps you'll need to reassess those goals or put new ones in place. You can also make the necessary adjustments to help your company meet them.
In planning ahead, it also makes sense to review your staffing position and your recruitment activities to ensure you are on track to achieve your targets. Perhaps you know that autumn and winter will be a busy time for you. If so, set the recruitment ball rolling now so you'll be prepared.
Don't forget your clients and your customers during this time, either. Keep in regular contact with them and help them to review their own goals and ambitions for the second half of the year. Make sure you are both on the same page and that you know what needs to be done in the months ahead.
Invest in your staff
Staff training is an ongoing process, but the summer slowdown provides the ideal opportunity to send your employees off on courses or to conferences and seminars, or to run in-house training sessions, either in groups or one-on-one, to help your staff add to their existing skill sets.
If you're unable to actually provide training over the summer, then use the time to organise your training schedule for the rest of the year. Speak to your staff about the kind of training opportunities they would value and look at your own business goals to help you decide which areas to focus on.
Not only will training benefit your business, it will also further the personal development of your employees, which in turn will help to boost morale and loyalty. Team-building exercises could also be a great way to achieve this, allowing staff to let off some steam in the process.
You could also spend the slower summer period carrying out personal reviews for your staff, helping them to identify their achievements and looking at what they can do to progress further. And importantly, take the time to thank them for the work they have done so far this year.
It is summer after all and, while there is always work to be done, smart businesses will find time for play as well. You may be surprised what a few fun activities can do for the overall health and wellbeing of your team, so get creative and switch up the routine a little.
You could plan a summer party or a day out, or, as mentioned earlier, turn a social gathering into a team-building exercise. These kinds of events can be a great way to get colleagues from various departments together to interact in a non-work environment.
Here at Michael Bailey Associates we run staff events for each of our office teams during the summer months. Our Amsterdam and Eindhoven teams enjoyed a day out at the seaside recently, and our London team is planning a golf event. Our German offices are also in the process of organising their summer activities.
However you decide to handle the summer slowdown, remember that it is only for a brief period and that business will pick up again, so use the time as wisely as you can and don't forget that everyone needs to let their hair down a little from time to time.