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Keeping the Team Focused as the Temperature Rises

It's natural. Every spring, winter begins to loosen its grip and the sun sets later each evening making the days feel longer, more relaxed. You probably see your employees taking more time to get outdoors for lunch or leaving a bit early to catch a baseball game or end-of-the-year school event. While this spring shift may appear to detract from the business at hand, it's actually a prime opportunity to increase your staff's commitment to your organization's success.

Rather than ignoring the natural change in attitude that comes with spring, take the time to let your staff know you're sensitive to it by incorporating some easy "attitude enhancers."

• Introduce a bi-weekly all-company ice cream or coffee break. Offer free frozen treats or premium coffee drinks twice a month during mid-morning or mid-afternoon and invite everyone to spend a few minutes away from their desks with their co-workers. This simple but effective tool gives everyone a chance to reconnect or build relationships with colleagues in other departments and sends them back to their duties with a positive, refreshed attitude. Create excitement around the event by holding a bi-weekly drawing for motivational mugs or water bottles imprinted with an inspiring message along with your logo.

• Institute Casual Dress Fridays or add an additional casual dress day to your existing program. While simple to administer, this time-tested, low-cost program allows co-workers to see each other in a different light and often leads to improved working relationships.

• Announce a "Beat the Rush" policy. Allow everyone to leave work an hour early on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. By giving them a much-appreciated jump on one of the busiest travel days of the year, your staff will focus more clearly on their responsibilities throughout day rather than dreading the gridlock they're sure to face at 5 o'clock.

While acknowledging the seasonal attitude shift is important, keeping your organization's broader goals in mind is also key. Consider these effective approaches.

• Organize a softball or volleyball team to compete in a local recreational league. The camaraderie and teamwork that is built outside of the building is carried back into the workplace, creating strong bonds between individuals and departments throughout the organization.

• Encourage innovative thinking. Often, when we're more relaxed, we're able to see things in new ways. Spring is the perfect time to tap into the innovative ideas that are sometimes hidden below the surface. Keep the big ideas flowing by developing an email suggestion box. Offer a dream-themed motivational print along with a certificate for a free day off for the best new suggestion submitted each quarter.

• Use Free Lunch Gift Cards as instant recognition. This dual-purpose perk should never be underestimated. A gift card to a local restaurant provides instant gratification for the recipient and encourages everyone to do their best at all times. Along with each gift card, present your recipients with a motivational lapel pin, medallion or mini award for even greater impact.

With competition for talent increasing and workers actively seeking out businesses that recognize the importance of work/life balance, it's important to show your staff that you appreciate the significant seasonal shift that occurs each spring while keeping employees focused on the success of the organization.

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