Keeping workers motivated and engaged during the summer months is typically a challenge for many employers.
The good news is that this challenge is probably easiest during early summertime, when employees have much to look forward to: ice cream socials, softball games and beach barbeques can enthuse even the poutiest of workers.
From an HR professional’s perspective, summer provides a golden opportunity to mix up the workplace routine by providing unfettered access to outdoor activities—something not always available during other seasons.
To begin with, you should focus your summer workplace events on activities that matter most to your employees, because even your best efforts may fall flat if they’re not directly related to employees’ interests and desires. That ideally means polling workers well ahead of summer about the events that most inspire and enthuse them.
In general, it’s best to consider activities that engage workers on four levels: the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. If you can keep these levels uppermost in your mind when planning summer events, your chances of making the activities meaningful will skyrocket.
*The physical: When temperatures are warm, nights breezy and the days long, it’s ideal to plan ice cream socials, picnics in the park and company barbeques.
*The emotional: Remember that workers want to connect with their companies and co-workers. 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 visit, preferably near the end of the work day, to see what Mommy or Daddy do for a living. For clients and customers, consider a tour and open house from 3-5 p.m., which allows these important people to get to know your workers on a personal level. An early evening barbeque and party after the tour—perhaps with company door prizes—is also advisable.
*The mental: The summer season affords an opportunity to celebrate the work/life balance that seems to be missing for so many of today’s U.S. employees. Friday relaxed dress codes, walking groups at lunchtime and outdoor patio gatherings can stimulate the mind and foster creativity and innovation.
*The spiritual: Sponsoring a community day may bring your employees closer to the customers they serve, and volunteerism allows them to share their talents, appreciate their blessings and provide solutions to local challenges their own neighbors may be facing. Painting a local school, planting trees or mentoring students can go a long way toward fostering a sense of teamwork and shared responsibility for those less fortunate.
Paul Falcone is a human resources executive and a best-selling author of five books, including 2,600 Phrases for Effective Performance Reviews (AMACOM, 2005).