How ice cream could solve a staffing crisis (and six other tips for hot weather working)

26 May 2017 By Sophie Parrott

Readers and other experts reveal how to keep employees happy when the temperature soars

With the mercury soaring to its highest point so far this year, staff may struggle to keep their cool. Whether it's taking measures to make the workplace less stuffy or providing fun seasonal perks, employers need to make sure employees feel comfortable to keep productivity levels high.

Here are seven tips to keep staff happy in the heat:

Go outdoors

“Having meetings outside or having walking meetings is a good way to allow employees to enjoy this weather,” said Jonathan Richards, chief executive of breatheHR.

Richards added workers should avoid being chained to their desk all day, as a short break in the sun can leave staff feeling energised and ready to conquer whatever awaits them in their inbox. “I advise employees to go outside on their lunch break as much as possible,” he said. “We have even bought a picnic bench to lure them out and give them somewhere pleasant to eat their lunch.”

Buy some ice cream

Ice cream-worthy weather is rare in the UK, so seize the opportunity while it lasts. A OnePulse survey revealed that a third (33 per cent) of employers had offered ice cream in a bid to help staff cool down and stay productive.

Catriona Reid, a HR manager from Northern Ireland, said that handing out ice creams to staff is the best way to “keep cool” in her office.

Refresh yourself

When hot weather strikes, Amanda Cooper, HR business partner at GLH group, said leading by example and not moaning to employees about the heat was important when managing a team. “We give extra comfort breaks during shifts so that people can go and refresh themselves, walk outside for a few minutes and grab a glass of water,” she said. “All areas of the business have access to water, be it bottled, tap or dispensing machines.”

Play a game of football

Organise a kickaround or some other exercise at a nearby park. Not only does this help staff bond, it can create a great vibe that leaves employees feeling happy and energised, before they head back to work. “It created a good spirit and is a good excuse for bonding,” Cooper said of a recent football match among her team.

Loosen up the dress code

Research by CV-Library found that only 20 per cent of UK workers benefit from seasonal perks, such as relaxed dress codes and reduced working hours, but 63 per cent believed all employers should put such policies in place to make life easier for staff during the summer.

Sam Sahni, head of workplace consultancy at Morgan Lovell London, added: “Wellbeing plays a major role in ensuring staff don’t lose their cool on a hot day – simply offering ice creams and cold drinks, as well as relaxing dress codes, can create a more comfortable environment.”

Be flexible

Jeremy Coy, associate solicitor in the employment team at Russell-Cooke, said employers should, where possible, adapt working environments and shifts during the warmer months. “Employers who show this kind of flexibility are likely to keep their employees content in uncomfortable temperatures and therefore reduce any risk of claims of discrimination on grounds such as disability, age, pregnancy or religion,” he said.

Use your head

Apparently, transferring the heat from your head to cooler parts of your body, such as your feet, can help keep you cool. Jo Giann, a learning and development expert, said: "In the office most heat will be at the head. If cool packs for feet are unrealistic, take your shoes off."

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