From BBQs and parties to festivals and sporting events, the warmer months bring with them inevitable summer HR challenges for managers and employers. How do you tackle sickies, distracted and hungover staff without being a killjoy? Here are a few of the most common HR challenges and tips on how to handle them.

Staff pulling sickies

We’re all enjoying the freedom and the sunshine and making the most of the longer days. However, Sunday afternoon BBQs can frequently spill over into Monday morning hangovers with some dubious calls in to report absence. How do you deal with increased absence?

Here are our tips:

  • Measure sickness and absence using a time management system (we use and recommend Breathe HR) this will allow you to identify any repeat patterns or areas of concern. Recording absence will also make it easier to address the issue with the employee if you can present evidence.
  • Organise a quick check-in call or return-to-work meeting with employees when they return to work. This can often be the deterrent that’s needed if a member of staff knows they will need to discuss their absence (even if it’s informally).
  • Remind staff of your sickness and absence policy and what’s expected of them during working hours. Most importantly, encourage open communication. If you know that they have a big event encourage them to book time off around it so that they are not tempted to call in sick instead.

Conduct at summer parties

How do you deal with issues that arise during work events? Even if you’re off-site and hosting an event outside of using working hours, you are still liable for their actions and behaviour. This is because they are still ‘acting in the course of their employment’ by attending a work event.  We’ve dealt with many issues over the years for clients including employees acting inappropriately or disciplinary claims from others about behaviour and conduct.


  • Have policies in place which describe conduct and behaviour in the workplace. This will extend to social events and are essential to protect your staff and business alike. These policies should point to your grievance/complaints procedure that informs staff on how you deal with issues. All staff should be made aware of the policy and understand the conduct expected of them.
  • Work with the venue to ensure that there is a way to monitor the availability of alcoholic drinks, especially during an all-day event. Consider providing a variety of non-alcoholic options and/or food during the event to reduce staff drinking too much alcohol
  • Remind staff before the event that they should drink and behave responsibly
  • Consider organising or paying for their transport home to ensure their safety and avoid anyone potentially driving. It also shows that you care about your staff.

Distracted staff

With sporting events like Wimbledon on the horizon, sports fans can find themselves easily distracted. There is nothing more frustrating than staff who are not engaged and checking their phones for updates on scores. How can you keep staff motivated without dampening the spirit?


  • Be aware of the dates of major sporting events this summer – check out this calendar.
  • Encourage staff to book time off if they are major fans of particular events rather than trying to keep up with them whilst at work.
  • Be sure to have a mobile phone policy in place which sets out the expectations you have for staff. This should include a reference to checking scores.
  • Consider allocating specific time during the day for watching sports events or catching up on the score – for example, set up a TV or screen during lunchtime so that staff can catch up then. You could turn this into a bonding / morale-boosting exercise – think about starting office sweepstakes.
  • Offer flexible working hours so that if staff do want to watch a game or match, they have the option to make up the time later in the day or during the week.

Staff taking annual leave at the same time

Diaries are already full of foreign holidays, festivals, and sporting events. Whilst no one wants to put a dampener on anyone’s fun, staff taking leave at the same time can place a huge strain on a small business. There are steps that you can take to mitigate this and avoid finding yourself hugely under-resourced.

  • Use a holiday planner to coordinate your employees’ holidays. This will give you a bird’s eye view of what the summer looks like and where gaps may appear.
  • Look at automation tools. Are there tasks that can be automated to cover absence? For example, tools like Adobe Express or Hootsuite can automate social media posts and FreeAgent can invoice.
  • Schedule handovers so that those who are working understand what they are covering.

By planning ahead and taking a proactive approach, businesses can ensure a smooth summer season and maintain productivity while also allowing their staff to enjoy the warmer months.