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The SESCO Report – June 2016

Summertime — Not So Fun for HR

Memorial Day signals the return of warm weather, summer activities and fun. But summertime also brings a number of workplace issues from enforcing dress code and attendance policies to planning a company outing or event. The following are SESCO tips in preparing for and managing summertime "fun" in the workplace.

• Be specific in your dress code policy. Dress code tends to become more open to interpretation during the summer (sleeveless tops, open-toed shoes, flip flops, capris, skirts, etc.), so be sure to specify exactly what you mean by "business casual" attire instead of leaving it to the employee’s discretion. Spell out acceptable and unacceptable types of clothing and shoes (and examples), colors and styles (depending on your industry or type of organization), and specific days or situations that require different attire (such as formal or casual) than the usual. Also, be sure that you apply the dress code policy uniformly and consistently.

• Provide flexible scheduling. Summer is an ideal time to remind employees of your attendance policy as issues of consistently coming into work early or late or "calling off" tend to become more of a problem during the summer months. Another way to address this issue is by introducing flexible scheduling options to allow employees to better self-manage their work/life throughout the summer. In the summer, employees are typically faced with greater work/life constraints such as more activities, family obligations, and children home from school. Seasonal perks like flex-time, shorter hours on Fridays, compressed workweeks, and revised work schedules are all offered by some employers during the summer to help employees achieve better balance.

• Hire an intern or new graduate. Another useful way organizations provide relief to their employees during the summer months is by hiring an intern or new graduate. Interns offer a variety of workforce support and assistance with special projects at an affordable cost. They also bring fresh ideas and perspectives, technical knowledge, and a desire to learn. New graduates offer similar capabilities. Contact the placement office at your local Community College and University. They will have a list of individuals who are work ready.

• Offer time off from work. Time off is a common request during the summer with three major holidays (Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day), especially for Millennials. Be sure to communicate the paid time off your organization intends to provide for these holidays.

Additionally, scheduling and coordinating summer vacations requires an efficient and fair process to ensure that employees are able to take time off when desired, but also that the business is able to meet its demands. Here are some common ways organizations effectively coordinate vacations and paid time off:

  • Post a vacation planner or vacation planning system.
  • Create a method for employees to request or "bid" on preferred dates of vacation – such as a vacation request form. Build in supervisory approval.
  • Require employees to schedule time off in advance, but be reasonable about how far in advance they need to schedule.
  • Have employees coordinate vacation time with their coworkers and/or self-manage vacation time. This helps ensure that "back-ups" exist.
  • Develop policies that specify what criteria will be used to approve vacations (first come, first served, seniority, rotation, etc.).
  • Specify the limits of taking vacation (i.e. people with the same skill set can’t be out at the same time, maximum number of days, etc.).
  • Monitor and take into account other leaves (FMLA, maternity/paternity, sick, disability, etc.).
  • Remind employees that the business’ needs need to come first when scheduling vacations. As an employer, you do have the right to require an employee to postpone a vacation or require advanced notice.

• Start (or re-energize) your wellness program. There’s no better time to start or re-energize a wellness program than at the beginning of summer. Summer is an ideal time for employees to get into shape and improve their well-being and the workplace can help them do that. Employees also tend to be more interested in wellness at this time of the year given the nice weather, outdoor activities, and greater availability of fresh and healthy foods. This can boost participation rates which help you keep your workforce healthier and manage the sting of rising health insurance costs.

Here are some ideas for your summer wellness program:

  • Introduce a walking program
  • Hold company-wide wellness/fitness competitions, challenges, or team-building functions
  • Invite experts to speak on nutrition related topics

• Plan a company outing or event. The summer is a great time to plan a company outing or event and many businesses take advantage of the nice weather to spend time informally socializing with their employees. Outings and events are great opportunities to get to know your staff, show appreciation, and do some team-building. SESCO’s tips include:

  • Form a committee. Don’t plan your event alone. Get other employees involved in planning the outing and event and delegate responsibilities.
  • Define the event or outing’s purpose. Is the outing intended to be a social or networking event? Or is it an event that celebrates or recognizes something?
  • Determine the location. Outdoor locations are ideal for summer events, but make sure that the venue fits your audience and the type of event you are creating. A formal event will need a formal setting.
  • Set a date. Identify a couple potential dates and confirm the availability of the location as well as those that need to attend the event. Provide confirmations.
  • Create an agenda or timeline for the event. Lay out the entire event in terms of breaks, activities, meals, etc. and the times that they should take place. Assign roles to people on your committee and have them "own" certain tasks.
  • Communicate details. Be sure that your guests have all the information they need about the many events or outings (i.e. location, directions, timing, attire, meals provided, response directions, and contact information).
  • Select food and activities. Make sure these are relevant to the type of event and the people attending, and also consider any dietary restrictions ahead of time. For example, if children will be attending the event, activities and food selections should be fitting.
  • Test-drive the event. Test equipment, walk through the venue, and get familiar with the things you’ll need during the outing. Pretend like you’re the guest.
  • Make it unique. Traditions are great, but try to build an element of surprise into your outing or event to make each year exciting. This could be a new location or venue, different entertainment, or a new giveaway.

• Continue to train and guide performance. Engagement can often become stale in the summer months. That’s why performance management, training, and development should not wane during the summer months. It’s important to keep investing in these practices so employees stay engaged and productive. For example, the summer signals mid-year, which is an ideal time for employees to meet with supervisors to discuss their performance and progress towards goals and objectives set at the beginning of the year. This discussion can help refocus employees on their goals, help establish new projects and objectives, and identify what additional support is needed. Additionally, while many employers refrain from scheduling training during the summer due to vacations, this actually can be an ideal time for training and development – especially if business is slower than normal during this season.

• Prepare for budgeting. The summer passes quickly and budgeting will be just around the corner. With employers planning to provide salary increases this year, it may be worthwhile for your organization to benchmark your employees’ compensation so that you are prepared to make good decisions about market adjustments and compensation increases when budgeting time approaches. Keep a compensation project on your agenda this summer.

SESCO Client Feedback

"Jamie, just a quick note to say that it was super seeing you in San Diego and thank you for your session in our 2016 CEO Summit and our Small Business Roundtable session. WOW, what may I add? It was incredibly informative and our members not only learned a lot, but also took away so many new ideas! It also kept them on their toes, wishing for this session not to end!" ~ Gillian Campbell — SISO

"It’s a pleasure to be associated with such a fine company!" ~ Betsy Galliher, Church Business Administrator — First Presbyterian Church

"We (NPB) actually had a limited amount of time for Joel to work in and yet he managed to provide the desired direction and provide materials for manager’s reference. Joel was very receptive to our needs and easy to work with." ~ Lori Counts, Human Resource Assistant — New Peoples Bank

Special Thanks to SESCO Association Clients!

American Subcontractors Association
Automotive Training Institute
American Council of Independent Laboratories
Tire Pros
Quality Service Contractors
Virginia Community Healthcare Association
Time & Pay
Painting & Decorating Contractors Association
Independent Hardee’s Franchise Association
National Funeral Directors Association
National Chimney Sweep Guild
Tennessee Credit Union League
Tennessee Auto Association
LeadingAge Florida
Bankers Insurance, Inc.
Dealers Strategic Planning, Inc.
Exhibition Services & Contractors Association
International Truck Parts Association
Missouri Alliance for Home Care
National Pawnbrokers Association
National Retail Tire Network
SnowSports Industries America
Society of Independent Show Organizers
Tire Industry Association
Virginia Automobile Dealers Association
Virginia Automotive Association
Kentucky Automobile Dealers Association
Virginia Association for Home Care & Hospice
Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants
LeadingAge Virginia

SESCO Client Inquiry — Staff Response

Question: How can managers get a company in trouble when releasing reference information?

Answer: Many managers get a company in trouble by becoming petty or malicious, both when documenting a discharge and when releasing reference information to prospective employers. Also, frequently managers may falsify or color the reasons for an employee termination out of personal animosity or vindictiveness. When managers document a discharge, they sometimes introduce unnecessary personal comments and irrelevant information.
Managers can also get a company in trouble by communicating information regarding the terms of a discharge to people outside the company who have no need to know the information. For example, telling "war stories" to relatives, friends and colleagues.

If managers focus on the question "Is there really a need for this person to know the details of this case?" they will avoid most defamation claims.

Special Thanks to New SESCO Clients!

Society of Independent Show Organizers
Atlanta, GA

Old Dominion Tire Services, Inc.
Midlothian, VA

National Roofing Contractors Association
Rosemont, IL

Elkwood, VA

Nashville, TN