Productivity Wanes for Executives During the Summer Months

More than half of professionals surveyed say they are less productive in the summer, says a new study by Korn Ferry. No surprise there! But more effective teaming is necessary to make sure key work is still getting done. Search consultants from Robin Judson Partners, TalentRise, NGS Global, Horton International USA, Rudish Health, Waterford Global and IQTalent Partners weigh in.

July 31, 2019 – Summer. It’s the season millions of Americans look forward to each year. But a recent survey of professionals by Korn Ferry shows that work productivity may suffer at the expense of summer fun. In fact, nearly half say their personal productivity at work slumps in the summer.

One quarter (25 percent) of professionals admitted to playing hooky from work to enjoy the season, and nearly half (46 percent) said their personal productivity at work slumps in the summer. More than three-quarters (78 percent) said that the productivity of their colleagues takes a hit this time of year.

Nearly half (41 percent) said it is harder to get projects done in the summer, although 44 percent said they personally can be more productive when their colleagues/bosses are out of the office on summer vacation.

“Taking time away from the office to recharge and get some distance from day-to-day work challenges is key for professionals to maintain a healthy work-life balance, which leads to greater productivity when they are back on the job,” said Dennis Baltzley, Korn Ferry’s global solution leader for leadership development. “However, the pace of business, growth and profitability don’t take a summer vacation, so companies need to work with employees through more effective teaming, to make sure projects and tasks still progress.”

Nearly a third (31 percent) of professionals said their companies are more laid back in the summer, and 29 percent said their company offers amended summer work hours, such as working half days on Fridays.

More than a third (39 percent) of professionals said their company takes advantage of the season by offering team-building events in the summer.

Survey Responses

Korn Ferry gathered 1,060 responses to the online executive survey, which was conducted in May. Because of rounding, the firm said, responses may not equal 100 percent.

To what extent would you agree that your personal productivity at work slumps in the summer?

To a great extent – 4 percent
To some extent – 42 percent
To no extent – 54 percent

To what extent would you agree that the productivity of your work colleagues slumps in the summer?

To a great extent – 5 percent
To some extent – 73 percent
To no extent – 22 percent

Have you ever played “hooky” from work to enjoy the summer season?

Yes – 25 percent
No – 75 percent

Is it harder to get projects done during the summer months?

Yes – 41 percent
No – 59 percent

In general, is your company more laid back in the summer?

Yes – 31 percent
No – 69 percent

Does your company offer amended work hours in the summer? (e.g. working half days on Fridays)

Yes – 29 percent
No – 71 percent

Does your company offer team-building summer events outside the office?

Yes – 39 percent
No – 61 percent

Do you feel more productive when colleagues/bosses are on summer vacation?

Yes – 44 percent
No – 56 percent

Top Search Consultants Weigh In

“Summer is the toughest season for recruiting,” said Robin Judson, president at Robin Judson Partners. “Companies frequently want mid-year hires on board by Labor Day but vacation schedules, Friday and Monday golf outings and teamwork events cut the number of available days for interviewing,” she said.

“Recruiting productivity suffers as recruiters spend more time coordinating candidate interviews and chasing down prospective candidates to schedule initial phone prequalification screens due to candidate and client vacation schedules,” said Carl Kutsmode, partner and recruitment solutions consulting practice lead at TalentRISE. “Half day Friday or summer flex hours can add further complexity to candidate interview scheduling with clients as the amount of time available for interviewing becomes compressed each week from non-summer standard working hours and schedules.”

“When we launch a new RPO engagement or kickoff an executive search, we always factor in additional time if there are key holidays or summer months during the engagement term to offset some of these scheduling challenges and manage our clients hiring timeline expectations,” he added.

How to Best Balance Work and Summer Holiday Time
Nearly two-thirds of professionals (63 percent) say they have cut short vacations because of occupational demands and pressure to perform at work, according to a Korn Ferry survey. The study also found that nearly three quarters (73 percent) said they would prefer a higher salary over more vacation days.

“As a matter of practice regardless of time of year we are always looking ahead with our search clients to map out a timeline for project completion and uncover how business travel or PTO will impact the schedule so that we are not caught scrambling at the 11th hour and experiencing unnecessary delays,” added Allicia Hahn, partner at TalentRISE. “Often when the reality of the calendar sets in, we are forced to make decisions on must have and nice to have participants in the search process for fear of waiting too long and losing good candidates.”

A contrarian view to the Korn Ferry findings comes from David Nosal, chairman and CEO of NGS Global. “I believe that most well-run and managed businesses prepare for the absence of their key team members to ensure their domestic and global operations run as effectively as possible.”

In fact, he added, “I believe that in many instances, the performance is even greater because vacations are spread out between the team members, who then return inspired to work harder and smarter to fulfill the needs of their respective organizations.”

“It’s one thing for leadership to offer increased flexibility to employees in the summer which can be a great release valve given today’s 24/7 work environment, but it’s another when employees are looking for ways to slack off,” said Joshua Hollander, president and CEO of Horton International USA. “We find companies that invest more in ensuring they hire right fit talent as well as career development programs consistent with the vision, mission and core values of the organization maintain the highest levels of engagement.”

“These results should not be terribly surprising,” said Russ Rudish, president and CEO of Rudish Health. “Teamwork is the key driver for productivity, and teamwork is naturally disrupted when folks are out of the office on summer vacation.”

“For busy professionals, taking advantage of ‘too short’ summers by taking time away from the office also affords them the chance to reflect on aspects of their lives that otherwise may sometimes go unchecked,” said Fred Loewen, chief operating officer at Waterford Global Inc. “For some, it’s an opportunity and an openness to consider a career move or a wholesale career change. Tapping into that aspect of ‘summer slacking’ can turn beach season into prime ‘hunting’ season for recruiters.”

“I’ve found that by offering a flexible work environment, we can expect more consistent productivity, regardless of the season,” said Chris Murdock, co-founder and chief sourcing officer IQTalent Partners. “For some companies, summer PTO may adversely affect productivity, but we’ve created a system of managing vacation coverage so our clients never experience a decrease in productivity. With today’s tight job market and pace of business, we can’t afford to slow down in the summer months.”

“Because we allow employees to work remotely and to maintain a flexible schedule, they are empowered to manage their workload according to what works best for them. Regardless of whether they work from home, the office, or the pool, we don’t see a drop in productivity because we already focus on performance and execution,” said Mr. Murdock.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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