Maintaining Engagement in the Lazy Days of Summer

How do you keep employees connected to their jobs when the mercury rises?

By Paul Falcone Jul 25, 2014

August Cover​Keeping workers engaged is always a challenge—and in the summertime employers must compete with beautiful weather, vacations, and other distractions. Nevertheless, summer may actually be the easiest time to engage employees because there’s so much to do and look forward to.

What’s really special about the summer months is that they provide you, the employer, with the opportunity to change the “stage” from indoors to outdoors, by providing access to fun activities that are typically much more limited during other seasons. 

Be sure and focus your summer-related workplace activities on the things that matter most to your employees. When it comes to employee engagement, there are four levels or touch points that impact workers most: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.  If you can align your summer activities to these categories, your chances of making them more meaningful will skyrocket.

Physical engagement: Category one—physical—is the easiest to imagine, especially during the summer, when temperatures are warm and the days are long.  Yes, it’s okay to plan for ice cream socials, picnics in the park, and company barbeques. 

Emotional engagement: On the emotional side, remember that workers want to connect to their companies. They want to feel proud of what they do and what their organization stands for.  You can strengthen that emotional link to your organization by creating a “celebrate your family at work day,” where employees’ spouses and children come in toward the end of the day to see what mommy or daddy does for a living and how that helps people.

An open house from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. allows your clients and customers to meet your family members as well, followed by a barbeque and celebration in the early evening with company giveaways and swag.

Mental engagement: The mental aspect of employee engagement comes from intellectual challenge and the sense that workers are learning new skills.  While summer may not be the best time for greater intellectual stimulation, it certainly offers a unique chance to strengthen the work-life balance that seems to be so out-of-whack for U.S. workers today. 

You can do that through relaxed dress codes, walking groups at lunch time, and healthy recipe potlucks that can be shared on the outdoor patio.

Spiritual engagement: This aspect of engagement is all about helping people find purpose and meaning, both at work and beyond it. Sponsor a “community day” event to bring your employees closer to the customers they serve. Volunteerism allows people to share their talents and appreciate their blessings. Painting a local school, planting, or mentoring students for one day every summer could go a long way in building teamwork and fostering a shared sense of responsibility for the less fortunate.

The summer offers great possibilities for engaging and re-motivating employees. Just remember to tie your planned activities to the core needs of employee engagement in order to get the greatest return on investment for your efforts.

Paul Falcone ( is a human resource executive and author based in Los Angeles.


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