4 Strategies for Supporting “Back to School-itis”


It’s that time of year again!

Back to school has everyone gearing up to get Fall schedules sorted. This often means losing the unstructured days of summer and replacing them with Google calendars, fridge calendars, iPhone app synching and more. Getting everyone coordinated is mission critical and mom’s mind is being flooded with thoughts of packed lunches and soccer practices.

This is often a busy time at work, too.

Everyone has returned from holidays and the last push to the end of the year is kicking in. We are all starting to realize that in order to meet our year-end goals, we have got to hit the ground running and make things happen. It can feel like a time to call an “all hands on deck” meeting to get people back on track. The reality is though that this is often a time when your office staff can be fairly distracted, pretty harried and honestly, quite tired!

So, what should you do when your office staff is dealing with a lot of change in their personal lives? Here are some “back to school” strategies for bringing your workplace revitalized energy and focus!

Don’t Fight the Machine

Back to school takes about two weeks to sort itself out and for everyone to figure out who has to be where and by when. Mom and dad have likely figured out, by that point, how to get everyone where they need to be and on-time – no easy feat for parents with active lifestyles. The structure has kicked in! So, don’t fight it.

Give parents the two weeks they will likely need to sort things out. Don’t expect early arrivals and long days. You will get the time back from parents who are leaving a bit early, and arriving a bit late, as they work out their schedules. More than a couple of weeks and it is appropriate to have a conversation about it – but give them some time to work it out and they will.

Spend Some Time Together

With various people off throughout the summer, it may have been a while since everyone was at work all at the same time. Once everyone is back, take time to bring everyone together for some quality time. Here’s the best part – it doesn’t have to be about work!

Schedule a team lunch and order in. Or, invite the team to go for drinks after work one night to catch up. Regroup socially so that people feel connected again. (Hint: do this after the first two weeks of September – see strategy #1!)

Regroup and Communicate

A lot of people will feel out of the loop and may not feel particularly connected to a project they were assigned or to achieving tasks that have been on their to-do list since June. Meet one-on-one with each team, or each individual team member, and regroup.

Communicate what has been going on in the company overall and in their department/area and identify where you see them focusing over the next few months. Use this opportunity to get their take on their priorities and focus areas and make sure you are on the same page.

Spending these thirty minutes together will bring back that focus to what is most important and will also give you a good opportunity to show some appreciation for their hard work over the summer or to give feedback on their performance. One-on-one meetings are always a great way to focus on the person in front of you!

Check In with Yourself

How are YOU doing? Are you feeling focused and connected to your team? Or, are you also running around getting yourself and your family organized?

Cutting everyone some slack over this time applies to you as well, if you need it, so don’t forget to scale back on your obligations for those first couple of weeks while you focus on getting your life organized and on track. Be real with your team about your need for some additional time or for a lighter schedule so that they are aware. Your team will appreciate that you are being honest and real with them, really!

“Every business has a flow and so do our employees and their lives — especially during back to school time.”

We can all achieve great things when we acknowledge where we are and where we are going and work with the flow instead of against it. Being aware of what is going on in people’s lives and looking for ways you can support them will always come back to you tenfold – just watch!

Your Engaged Assignment: What is the flow of your business right now? How can you support employees as they go through this “back to school” flow that is all around us?